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.”