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Exclusive: Lina Kaufman’s Mother Stands Behind Acquitted Son-In-Law

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Adam Kaufman and his mother-in-law Frida Aizman. (CBS4)

Adam Kaufman and his mother-in-law Frida Aizman. (CBS4)

Carey-Codd-600x450 Carey Codd
Carey Codd is a General Assignment Reporter for CBS4 News and jo...
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Casey Anthony Cries During Opening Statements
ORLANDO (CBS4) -- Following an exhaustive jury selection process, the murder trial of Casey Anthony is underway in Orlando. Opening statements began Tuesday morning in the case against the young mother, accused of killing her own 2-year-old daughter, Caylee. She has pleaded not guilty and says a babysitter kidnapped the girl. Casey Anthony cried in the courtroom, as the prosecution laid out its case against her. In opening statements, the prosecution portrayed Anthony as a habitual liar, who not only pretended to go to work every day, but constantly lied to her parents about the whereabouts of her daughter. Prosecutor Linda Drane-Burdick described the last day Caylee Anthony was seen by her grandparents. Drane-Burdick offered a timeline of Casey Anthony's whereabouts based on cell phone records. The timeline stretched from the time Caylee was last seen by her grandparents on Father's Day 2008 until her remains were discovered by a meter reader in woods near her home in December 2008. Drane-Burdick asked jurors, between descriptions of how Casey Anthony spent her days shopping, visiting friends and hanging out with her boyfriend with no signs of her daughter, "Where is Caylee Marie Anthony?" The prosecutor described Casey Anthony's appearance as a hardworking single mother as false. "Casey Anthony ... appeared to be ... a loving mother, trying to provide support for her daughter," Drane-Burdick said. "But as the evidence in this case will show, that was an illusion." The trial has attracted national attention and dozens of people lined up in the early morning hours to be one of the few spectators allowed into the courtroom. Television personalities Geraldo Rivera and Nancy Grace sat in the courtroom gallery. Brett Schulman, a 51-year-old professional poker player arrived at the Orlando courthouse at 4 a.m. to snag the first spectator seat. "It's the largest case in central Florida history," Schulman said. "And it's in my backyard." Casey Anthony waited a month before telling her mother that Caylee had disappeared, and only after her parents, George and Cindy, recovered from the towing lot a car with a foul odor that Casey Anthony had been driving. With no eyewitnesses, no confession and no cause of death, the trial will be a battle over forensic evidence. Prosecutors plan to have jurors smell the odor from her car, present evidence of chloroform in the 1998 Pontiac Sunfire and show photos that purport to show Casey Anthony out partying with friends after her daughter Caylee disappeared. The jury is expected to hear from more than 300 prosecution and defense witnesses over the course of the next several weeks. Legal analyst Mark Nejame said he expects the defense to concede in its opening argument that the death of Caylee was an accident. “There are certain things they are not going to be able to get around and I think they have no choice as a defense but to concede that,” said Nejame. “I think it will streamline the expert testimony, I think that is going to go a lot quicker than people expect.” For example, according to Nejame, why spend days on scientific evidence showing a dead body was in the trunk if Anthony is going to admit it. Anthony will not be able to testify until after the state rests and Nejame expects she will. “I think it is inescapable, she’s going to take the stand as an accidental death theory and that is what they are going to be moving forward,” said Nejame. Nejame said Anthony will have to take the stand because there is no other way to present an effective accidental death case without her testimony. “I can’t see a good way to do it because all of her lies will come out. She needs to be able to explain those lies if they have any chance whatsoever of an acquittal,” said Nejame. Attorney Mark O’Mara said if the defense goes with an accidental death strategy the state will shift its focus in its prosecution. “It will streamline their case, but they are still going to focus on the fact that what Casey did, and what she failed to do, for the first 30 days showed not only an accidental death, but the type of cover up that suggests more guilt and that is what the state will focus on either way,” said O’Mara. If convicted, Anthony could face the death penalty. (©2011 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

MIAMI (CBS4) – Frida Aizman said from the instant she learned her beloved daughter, Lina Kaufman, passed away in 2007 she knew her son-in-law Adam had nothing to do with the death.

“It wasn’t a choice to support or not,” Aizman told CBS 4’s Carey Codd in her first interview. “It was my responsibility. I knew that Adam was innocent from the very beginning. In a million years, I couldn’t believe Adam could do anything close to it.”

Aizman and Kaufman sat down for their first joint interview on Thursday more than a week after a Miami-Dade jury acquitted Kaufman of a second degree murder charge. They spoke to CBS 4 in the Aventura home where Lina died. Her pictures are everywhere. Kaufman said his wife chose the home and he’s not ready to leave it.

Kaufman and Aizman share a deep bond through their love of Lina, their desire to keep her memory alive and their dedication to raising the couple’s children.

They each spoke in glowing terms of what the other has been through and how each has supported the other.

“I’m proud of him,” Aizman said.

“It’s hard on me,” Kaufman said. “But I can’t imagine what it’s like on her.”

Kaufman maintained from the outset that he had nothing to do with his wife’s death. Prosecutors argued that Kaufman murdered his wife by strangling her and leaving her body in the bathroom of their Aventura home. However, prosecutors offered no motive and Kaufman’s defense team hired two medical experts who refuted the state’s argument.

Defense experts said Lina Kaufman suffered from a heart condition, fainted and collapsed. Adam Kaufman found his wife with her head draped over a magazine rack. Kaufman and his mother said Thursday that Lina had a history of fainting spells dating back to her early years.

Kaufman said he always believed jurors would acquit him.

“I felt Lina’s presence,” he said. “I felt her there. There’s no way I was gonna leave the children without a mother and now without a father. Wasn’t going to happen.”

Through it all, Aizman supported her son-in-law and testified on his behalf.

“From day one there was never even a question of me,” Kaufman said. “No one even approached me in the family and said, ‘Did you have anything to do with this?'”

Kaufman said he and his mother-in-law work hand in hand to keep Lina’s memory alive and to raise the couple’s two children, 9 and 6. Kaufman said his 9-year-old daughter is just like Lina and is heartbroken she is gone.

“She misses her mother every day. Every minute of the day. But we reinforce to her that her mother lives inside of her in her heart,” Kaufman said.

A challenging task — and Kaufman admits “there’s no book on how to do this” — was explaining to his daughter that he was about to go on trial.

“On Mother’s Day I went to the cemetery with her and I felt like it was the appropriate time to lay the groundwork for what was going on,” Kaufman said. He says he told his daughter that “when someone passes away and they don’t know what happened it involves people that were closest to the people that passed away.”

Kaufman told his daughter that he would have to go to “meetings” and answer questions.

Fortunately, he says, the jury made the right decision.

Despite all he’s been through, Kaufman said he’s not angry. But he does acknowledge that the criminal justice system might need changing.

“I’m disappointed in the system,” he said. “I believe there needs to be a better system of checks and balances.”

Kaufman said he was fortunate to have the means to afford private attorneys and expert witnesses but he said others he met during his three months in jail did not have that luxury.

“Thank God the system worked for me in this instance,” he said. “It doesn’t work for a lot of other people.”

Kaufman said he is not worried about the fallout of a public trial. He said his focus is on his children, his extended family and honoring his wife.

“She’s always going to be there with me,” Kaufman said. “She’s always going to be part of my life.”

She will always be a part of Frida Aizman’s life as well. And Aizman said Lina’s “spirit is around me all the time.” Aizman said she’s relied on meditation and her spirituality to communicate with Lina.

Aizman also holds on tightly to a binder full of handwritten notes and cards Lina wrote her over the years. The notes are a keepsake from a child who grew into a woman and remained steadfastly devoted to her mother.

The notes are tender and personal, lengthy and specific. Both Kaufman and Aizman said Lina loved to leave them tiny reminders of how much she cared for them.

Aizman is also looking forward. She appreciates all the time she spends with her grandchildren and sharing stories of their mother.

She also believes that her son-in-law needs to move forward with his life.

“It takes time but it is (possible),” Aizman said. “He has to go on with his life. He has kids. The kids need a woman in the house.”

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