The state of Florida rested its case against Aventura developer Adam Kaufman Thursday morning in Miami. Moments later, defense attorney Bill Matthewman asked the judge to grant an acquittal because the state failed to prove that Kaufman is guilty of second-degree murder.
Kaufman is accused of strangling his wife Eleonora Kaufman to death in their Aventura, Fla., home. The defense maintains that the real estate developer is innocent, and that his wife died from a pre-existing heart condition.
Matthewman claimed his client can't have a fair trial because evidence favorable to him was never collected by crime scene technician Anna Howel. "The magazines and marking on the wall were critical to this case," said Matthweman. "The evidence we have now to this point is that crime scene technician Howel had an affair with Detective Angulo." Matthewman went on to remind Judge Brownyn Miller that Howel did not collect the magazines because Angulo told her not to take them into evidence.
After hearing the defense's argument for acquittal Judge Miller denied the motion and told the defense to prepare to start its case Thursday afternoon.
Chief Medical Examiner Testified
Miami Dade Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Bruce Hyma testified for more than two days at the end of the state's case. Hyma was under fire from the defense for taking 18 months before declaring the death of Elenora Kaufman as mechanical asphyxia in the matter of homicide. Hyma explained to the jury Tuesday how it took him 18 months to rule out everything he could think of that could be responsible for Elenora's death other than a homicide.
Those possible things included the chemicals in the spray-tan she received which he discussed when prompted by the prosecution.
The case against Kaufman, who had two children with his wife, first gained national attention in 2009 at a bond hearing when Kaufman's lawyers initially blamed the death on a violent, allergic reaction to the spray tan she'd just gotten. Attorneys said that theory was disproved by science.
"[It] could be heavy metal in the spray tan -- arsenic or led -- so samples were sent off to the national medical services … those results were not remarkable at all," Hyman said. "They found some traces of mercury, but [they] were not over for someone living on a coastline like we are. Seafood could explain that small amount of mercury.
However during the defense second cross examination of Dr. Hyma late Wednesday, he admitted that the actual spray tan chemicals were never tested but instead Elenora's blood was screened for things that may have been in the spray-tan.
Hyma also explained that everything from Eleonora Kaufman's toxicology testing proved that she died of mechanical asphyxiation. He even stated that the scarring found in Eleonora's heart did not cause her death, or have any role in her death. The defense maintains that's what may have killed her.
"She died with the scar -- not because of it," Hyma said.
Hyma testified that there had to be significant force applied for at least two minutes to multiple sides of Elenora's neck in order for that kind of damage to occur but said he could not rule this as a strangulation and instead just called it mechanical asphyxia.
"Is it true you can't call it strangulation?" asked defense attorney Alberto Milian.
"Because of the information gathered I couldn't case it as strangulation," said Hyma. "It's mechanical asphyxia, it was an outside force in a situation where I would consider this a homicide but the injuries aren't specific enough to call it strangulation so I wouldn't."