Prominent Florida real estate developer Adam Kaufman will go on trial Monday for allegedly strangling his wife to death in 2007, but his defense says the woman could have died because she suffered an adverse reaction to a spray tan.
Kaufman said he found his wife, 33-year-old Eleanora, on the bathroom floor of the couple’s Aventura, Fla., home on the morning of Nov. 7, 2007.
The couple had two children. Eleanora Kaufman’s death wasn’t declared a homicide until 2009, and her husband was accused of strangling her and charged with second-degree murder.
Medical examiners say even though it took them so long to determine the cause of death, they are certain she was murdered.
Dr. Bruce A. Hyma, Miami-Dade County’s chief medical examiner, has said only ”direct focused pressure” consistent with force applied by another person could have caused the deep bleeding in the victim’s neck muscles, but defense attorney Bill Matthewman offered another explanation.
He has said the victim could have suffered a violent reaction to a spray tan she’d had the day before, fallen on the magazine rack and choked to death.
Matthewman also said the spray tan could have contained arsenic or some other accidental poison.
Prosecutors scoffed at that defense when it was introduced.
“It’s a weird defense but if the defendant and his lawyers have good experts to actually back up this defense, then it may actually play well,” Dana Cole, a criminal defense attorney not involved in the case, told ABC News.
The victim’s family and friends support her husband, and have said they believe he is innocent. Some of them will be called as defense witnesses.
“I’ve known that boy since he was born. There’s no way, no way he could have hurt that woman, he loved her so much,” a relative, Herb Rough, said, according to an NBC 6 report in 2009.
Cole said, “If the victim’s family is actually supporting Mr. Kaufman, then the prosecution is really going to have to work doubly hard to show there’s a motive here as to why he would want his wife dead.”
The Associated Press contributed to this story.