MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The murder trial of Aventura-developer Adam Kaufman took another twist Thursday when Judge Browyn Miller dealt a potentially devastating blow to the defense team, but in the end, it seemed to have blown up in the prosecution’s face.
Kaufman is standing trial for the murder of his wife Lina in 2007.
Thursday afternoon, Judge Miller ruled the jury should be allowed to hear that Kaufman met another woman about a month after his wife’s death and began a sexual relationship with her within a few months.
When the woman, Fara Corenblum, took the stand, she testified that she first met Kaufman two months after Lina died and they became intimate more than three months after Lina’s death.
“Adam was never emotionally available,” Corenblum said. “He said so from the start. How could he be, his wife had recently passed. I was okay with that.”
Corenblum said Kaufman continued to wear his wedding ring and was bothered when she asked him when he planned to take it off.
Corenblum also said Kaufman told her he was still in love with his wife and could not have a serious relationship with her because of his ongoing love and grief for his wife.
Fara said she broke off their “twice a week” relationship when she became convinced Kaufman was not ready to move on after his wife’s death.
Defense attorneys called the testimony “inflammatory and prejudicial,” saying Kaufman’s behavior following his wife’s death with a woman he had never met was irrelevant to whether he murdered Lina.
Judge Miller ruled the jury could hear it though because the defense had portrayed the Kaufman marriage as bilssful.
Prosecutors have likened the romantic relationship to Casey Anthony’s partying behavior after her daughter, Caylee, went missing. Anthony, of course, was found not guilty in her daughter’s death.
Earlier in the day, Kaufman’s defense team brought in one of the most famous forensic pathologists in the country to poke holes in prosecutors arguments that Adam killed his wife Lina in 2007.
Dr. Michael Baden, a gray-haired, scholarly appearing pathologist, is the former Chief Medical Examiner for New York City. He also headed the pathology board that re-examined the assassinations of President John F. Kennedy and Dr. Martin Luther King at the request of Congress. Baden was an expert in the OJ Simpson murder trial, the Claus Von Bulow case, and the deaths of John Belushi and Sid Vicious, among others.
“Lina Kaufman did not die of unnatural causes,” Baden testified Thursday. “There was no homicide, there was no murder. She died of natural causes.”
Baden said Miami-Dade Medical Examiner Bruce Hyma relied on the work of two rookie associates to conclude that Lina Kaufman was strangled.
Baden said Lina suffered from heart disease the ME missed.
“There’s good evidence of what the natural death was,” Baden said.
He said that Lina Kaufman had a heart-related fainting spell in the bathroom and struck her neck on a magazine rack. He said injuries to her throat were exacerbated by botched resuscitation efforts by her husband and paramedics.
Baden also criticized the length of time it took the ME to reach a homicide conclusion.
“Ninety five percent or more of homicide deaths are diagnosed on first day of autopsy,” he said.
Prosecutors said based on the evidence and observations of police officers involved in the investigation and the Medical Examiner, Kaufman strangled his wife and then called 911 and told the operator he found his wife dead the their bathroom.
Earlier this week, Broward Sheriff’s CSI investigator Thomas Hill testified police failed to collect key pieces of potential evidence, including Kaufman’s clothing, the magazines from the magazine rack and the bedding from their master bedroom.
Hill testified he could see no evidence of a struggle in the tiny bathroom.
“My goodness, she would have been kicking those walls in, and I don’t see any of that.”
Hill testified if Lina was being strangled, there should have been gouge marks on Adam Kaufman’s hands from her trying to claw them from her neck. He said there were no such marks on Kaufman’s hands.
After Hill, the defense called former Palm Beach County Chief Medical Examiner Dr. John Marriccini, a regular consultant to the Miami-Dade’s Medical Examiner’s Office, who testified that Lina Kaufman had “substantial” heart disease which was not detected by MDME. He said he was immediately suspicious when reviewing the case.
“I was not satisfied. I was on the hunt for any other manner and cause of death there might be.”
Marriccini testified he found extensive scarring on Lina Kauman’s heart, the result of myocarditis, inflammation of the heart.
The expert testified the condition could cause fainting spells and death. This would be consistent with the defense argument that Lina collapsed from heart failure and struck her neck on a magazine rack.
Marraccini concluded that Kaufman died from “postural asphyxiation;” she collapsed from a heart episode and came to rest on the magazine rack, causing her airway to be blocked.
“Gravity got her,” the expert said.
Her death was not a homicide, according to Marraccini, and marks on her neck were not consistent with her being strangled.
“This was not homicide,” Marraccini said.
At the end of the day’s testimony, prosecutors asked the judge if the could introduce evidence that Kaufman had previous arrest or arrests for battery, most recently as 14 years ago. The defense said if the judge allowed that, it would be a “reversible error.” Judge reserved ruling. The trial then recessed for the day.