'Spray tan' lawyer: State can't prove slay
The wife of a Florida developer from Ramapo suffered from fainting spells and may have had a heart condition, the lawyer for murder suspect Adam Kaufman said during opening statements Monday in Miami.
Prosecutors argue that Kaufman, 39, who graduated from Ramapo High School and is charged with second-degree murder, strangled 33-year-old Eleonora Kaufman in the couple's home in November 2007. The case gained national attention when Adam Kaufman's lawyer, Bill Matthewman, suggested his client's wife might have died from an allergic reaction to spray tan, a defense that he might be backing away from.
"The state's evidence cannot even prove that a homicide occurred, let alone that Adam Kaufman did it," Matthewman told jurors Monday, according to WTVJ-TV in Miami.
Matthewman said that scarring on Eleonora Kaufman's heart could have contributed to a heart attack. According to police, Adam Kaufman said he woke up and found his wife dead on the bathroom floor. His lawyer has argued that injuries to the wife's neck likely were caused when she fell on a magazine rack.
Miami-Dade's chief medical examiner ruled Eleonora Kaufman died from mechanical asphyxiation.
"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," Miami-Dade County prosecutor Joe Mansfield reportedly told the panel.
Prosecutors played Adam Kaufman's 911 call and argued that when he told the dispatcher that his wife had not fallen down, he was just trying to cover his tracks. Adam Kaufman's lawyer said the audio proves that a panicked Adam Kaufman was attempting to save his wife's life.
Matthewman said in his opening statement that prosecutors have not suggested a motive for Adam Kaufman to kill his wife.
Adam Kaufman, who has been free on $500,000 bail since June 2009, faces life behind bars if convicted.