After deliberating for eight hours and passing out six notes to the judge, the jury found ample reasonable doubt to acquit Aventura, Fla., real estate developer Adam Kaufman of murdering his wife.
The unusual and highly circumstantial second-degree murder trial pitted doctors versus doctors. Five medical experts testified for the state, including Miami-Dade County’s Chief Medical Examiner, Bruce Hyma, who ruled the death a “homicide by mechanical asphyxia,” forming the crux of the state’s case. The doctors, police and prosecutors concluded Adam Kaufman strangled his wife Eleonora. There were pink dots in her eyes, they testified, evidence of “mechanical asphyxiation,” and bruising on her neck.
The defense had suggested that Eleonora may have died from an allergic reaction to her first-ever spray tan.
The two medical examiners testifying on behalf of the defense -- including former New York City Medical Examiner Michael Baden -- ultimately persuaded the jurors more effectively.
Baden testified that the markings on her neck could easily be the result of Adam Kaufman’s attempts at CPR, overheard on the lengthy and, at times, hysterical 911 call. Baden and the former Palm Beach County, Fla., medical examiner also adamantly ruled out murder, concluding Eleonora, or “Lena” as she was known, died from a previously undiagnosed heart condition causing her to collapse onto a bathroom magazine rack, where she died.
Having faced the prospect throughout the past 3 ½ years of being sentenced to life in prison, instead Kaufman rejoiced, closing his eyes, lowering his head and embracing his twin brother as the “not guilty” verdict was read.
In the Miami-Dade Courthouse hallway, with tears in his eyes, he said the verdict was for Lena.
"There's not a day that goes by that I don't think about her…and she's here; she was watching over this. . .and she can finally rest in peace. She can finally rest in peace."
Afterward, jurors said they found the medical explanations offered by the defense quite plausible and, combined with what they described as ample reasonable doubt that Adam Kaufman killed his wife, unanimously voted for an acquittal.
An “ecstatic” Adam Kaufman left the courthouse with his attorneys, all three with broad smiles and arms raised in victory. Kaufman said, after some celebratory drinks with his attorneys and family, he was most looking forward to going home to be with his 9-year-old daughter and 6-year-old son.
Phil Keating joined Fox News Channel (FNC) in March 2004 and currently serves as FNC's Miami-based correspondent.