Opening statements began Monday in the trial of an Aventura developer charged with murdering his wife in 2007. Defense attorney Bill Matthewman and prosecutor Joe Mansfield speak to the jury in court.
Opening statements began Monday in the trial of an Aventura developer charged with murdering his wife in 2007.
Adam Kaufman, 39, is charged with second-degree murder in the death of his 33-year-old wife, Eleonora, also known as Lina, whose body was found in the couple's home in November 2007.
Jury selection in the case wrapped up last week. A list of potential witnesses read aloud in court included 11 officers from the Aventura Police Department, 10 members of Miami-Dade Fire Rescue, and members of the Kaufman family.
According to police, Kaufman said he woke up and found his wife dead on the floor of their bathroom with her neck on a magazine rack.
"The state's evidence cannot even prove that a homicide occurred, let alone that Adam Kaufman did it," said defense attorney Bill Matthewman in court on Monday.
Kaufman claims he found his wife, unresponsive and not breathing, in the early morning hours in the bathroom of their Aventura home. The state says Kaufman strangled his wife.
"A healthy, active woman, arguably in the best shape of her life, and all that ended because of the actions of that man, her husband," said prosecutor Joe Mansfield.
The prosecutor acknowledged that it took the medical examiner 18 months to issue a finding that Lina Kaufman's death was a homicide, but Mansfield says that's because the medical examiner investigated every possible alternative.
"Nothing changed their opinion that this was an asphyxial death, that her death was a homicide," Mansfield said.
Kaufman's lawyer told the jury that Lina Kaufman suffered from fainting spells and had significant heart scarring, which he says could've caused a heart attack. He says injuries to her neck were caused when she fell and hit her neck on a magazine rack in the bathroom.
"This case is a tragedy of errors. An innocent man was charged with a non-existent crime, this is a prosecution in search of a crime," said Matthewman.
The state opened its case by playing the 911 call. The jury heard a distraught, hysterical-sounding Kaufman screaming that his wife was not breathing. The state says Kaufman said things on the call, including that his wife had not fallen down, that show he was trying to cover his tracks. The defense says the call proves that Kaufman was a panicked husband trying his best to save his wife's life.
Adam Kaufman has been on house arrest since 2009.
The case gained national attention after a bond hearing in 2009 when his attorney, Bill Matthewman, theorized that Kaufman's wife may have had an allergic reaction to tanning spray which caused her to fall on the rack.