In an InstantDateline NBC
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In this Dateline classic, Keith Morrison reports on the case of a wife who supposedly died from an allergic reaction to a spray tan. So why was her husband charged with murder? Originally aired on NBC on June 8, 2012.
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That's Etsy et suay dotcom gifts. Total shock and disbelief, I mean, this is not happening. Am I having a nightmare?
It was so sudden in that moment is ingrained in my memory. Time stood still. A wife and mom collapsed and gone. And I go to run to her and she's called her death baffled the experts. A heart attack, a seizure. Could it have even been her new tan?
It was the first time she had gotten a spray tan and she passed away a few hours later.
Finally, investigators had an answer to this mystery they said was murder. We were in complete shock, curious evidence, suspicious markings on her neck, strange behavior.
He went from hysterical to calm.
The trial had everything exploding, emotions, a secret affair.
Did you have an affair? Yes. And my husband is well aware of it.
Even an identical twin. Five years of suspicion comes down to one moment.
We the jury. I don't think that anyone can imagine what it's like to love someone so much and be charged with their murder. It's unfathomable. Keith Morrison reports on a cliffhanger of a case in an instant. The story when it hit the news sounded almost crazy. Killed by a spray tan claiming his wife died after an allergic reaction to her spray tan husband accused of murdering his wife tries to blame her death in a fatal reaction to a simple spray tan.
And the Smiths was born. The case of the spray tan defense was the headline. It was a strange tale and it was true that a spray tan did briefly play a role at the heart of what sounded like murder. But the real story headlines don't always tell it, do they? The true story of what happened here in Miami was far more troubling, tragic and bizarre than any headline. And it all happened so fast.
Business was good. Beautiful house, great friends. And then it changed in an instant. Like that. Like that. To begin with, there was even a brand new town, an upscale suburb, actually, with green lawns and trophy boats, skirts the northern fringe of Miami. And among the founding families in this new place was the Koffman clan migrants a generation ago from up north and New York, Jerry Kaufman came first.
We are we're four brothers, lots of children and grandchildren. The family's been very close for generations.
And pretty soon Advantra was a magnet for a big and ever bigger Koffman family, including these two, the twins, Adam and Seth Kaufman, Jerry's nephews, identical, like two halves of one person. So I tried to explain it by describing the day Adam cut his finger.
We're both screaming and and my mom said, Seth, why are you crying hysterically? And I said, because it hurts. And it was Adam's finger. So I truly do believe that we feel each other's pain.
They were teachers first, big teachers for little kids.
We have started teaching pre-K because there were no jobs available at the time to try to match you with four year olds like Kindergarten Cop, you know, Arnold Schwarzenegger. But it was a lot of fun. It was a lot of fun and also very rewarding.
But teaching didn't pay the bills, so they joined the family business, real estate development, though, frankly, they looked more like wrestlers or bar bouncers, big, burly, athletic men, and it turned out suckers for love.
She was my soul mate.
She was my soul mate. We had an instant connection.
Adam, first for a remarkable young woman named Elanora, though everybody called her Allena, she'd been everywhere. And Pnina, Russian roots, grew up in Israel, came to America, met Adam at work, and quickly decided that he was the twin for her.
And he I knew right away that this is the girl I want to spend the rest of my life with. What did she do for you? I mean, what she is absolutely spectacularly beautiful. She's a head turner. She's got class. And, you know, you have this poor schlub from New York.
You meet a woman like this, you know, you got to jump on that opportunity. So I did my best and something worked.
So what would people see you when they saw you and Lena walking down the street happy? The happiest time in my life. I had everything I ever wanted. And a woman caring, loving, giving. She's my best friend.
They got married in March 2000. Before long, they had a girl in the boy, a nice house in a gated community, a big extended family they saw all the time. And I was Adam's mother. Elaine saw it a remarkably happy and untroubled relationship.
There was just so much harmony in that marriage. He absolutely adored her and she adored him. And she would tell me all the time, you know, he's so cute, Mom.
If I said, you know, Nina, the guys want to go out tonight and grab a drink or go get a steak, no problem.
Go. It was there was never an argument about me spending time with my friends. There's really nothing I would have changed about our relationship.
Nothing like that at recess time.
And here comes this Brazilian girl who is loud.
That was Raquel. And Seth was smitten. Adam and Lina, to the four of them became inseparable.
We traveled together on the weekends. We worked together, restaurants, everything, family events. It was the four of us.
Yeah, it's like a sister, too. Yes. Yeah, really did. I mean, we truly talked about and enjoyed everything together, everything. And it had to be that way because. Adam and Seth, they're so close, so you get the picture. It was a sweet spot in line, too sweet, too perfect to last. It was November six, 2007. Seth and Raquel were getting married in 10 days. Lena was to be a bridesmaid.
And so she got herself her first ever spray tan to look her best in the dress.
Just hours after that is when it all came crashing down in an instant at this big, happy family suddenly plunged into a very dark place. It was a little after six the next morning, said Adam Kaufman. When he woke up and realized Lena wasn't next to him in bed. He walked into the bathroom, he said, and there she was. And I could run to her. And it's just in slow motion as I'm going to her. And I touch her and she's called screaming, Lena, Lena.
Wake up, wake up. That's when he made that frantic call to 911. One. But from what I know, he was hysterical. I need to calm down. I can tell you I'm worried about what's going on in. Not me, million things are going through my mind and all I'm focused on is getting help through. The 911 operator tried to instruct him in CPR, but it wasn't working. Twenty three minutes went by that way. You know how many times in your life seconds feel like minutes.
This felt like hours. Then the medics finally arrived, shoot at him out of the way, started working on leader Adam for his twin brother Seth. Adam was on the other end of the line frantically screaming, my name. Get over here quick. Is not breathing, says and fiancee Ricot reached over to the house as EMT, tried to intubate, been pushed and prodded and did everything they could to coax life back into her body. And Adam is pacing back and forth and screaming, Oh, my God.
Oh my God. Oh my God. My kids, my kids. And he's saying to me, please go to my kids, please go to my kids, OK?
I got the baby from the crib and went into the four year old. She was on the floor playing with her toys. And she looked at me, she said to me, ask you to come babysit me because she wasn't feeling well. And I said, yes, Lina was being rushed out of the house and to the hospital, but they could not save her. And Adam was a mess destroyed what on earth had happened to Lina and the big question that someone close.
When we come back, you know where this is going. A husband now under suspicion, the whole scene together for fire rescue was like, this is not adding up when in an instant continues.
You immediately feel. That you've lost. Half of you, your soul. Your heart. I couldn't I couldn't believe that that was true. Adam Kaufman insisted he had no idea what killed Lena. She was so active, seemed so healthy. How could a 33 year old go to the bathroom at night and just drop dead? Didn't make sense to the EMTs either. Something didn't look right, which is why Detective Anthony Angulo was called in to take a closer look at this medical mystery.
You never investigated a homicide before, but could this perhaps be his first? Even a rookie knows a husband is always a potential suspect when his wife drops dead. And certain things about Adam's story that morning seemed off. I mean, the whole scene together for fire rescue was like, this is not adding up and it wouldn't. The chief assistant state attorney, Kathleen Hoague, either.
For starters, Adams said he'd been asleep in bed just before finding Leanna, but some of the first responders said they saw Adam fully dressed when they arrived, where nobody sleeps, dressed even down to the fact that at the police, at the hospital itself, one of the officers recognized that he had cologne on his watch on as if he had been out all night or something, or at least up.
Another officer reported the hood of Adam's car parked in the garage, felt warm to the touch, as if he'd just been driving it.
Being warm kind of really lends it to being driven.
And when the detective looked in the bedroom, did his eyes deceive him or was one side of the bed undisturbed as if it hadn't been slept in?
So what was Adam's story about how he found his wife in the bathroom?
Again, it turns out it was a little unclear.
He told the first captain that he went into the bathroom and saw her slumped over the toilet. After that, he made a statement where he said that she was. Slumped over the magazine rack the other way. Yes, strange, isn't that what guilty people do, change their stories, but more than anything, it was something on Lena's body that just might tell what happened there.
Some nasty looking bruises on the neck.
Those and other signs of trauma suggested that Lena's death wasn't from natural causes. It looked like she'd been strangled.
Something has happened which has cut off the air supply and created a pressure such that you get these, you know, marks in your eyes when somebody has caused their airway to be closed. In other words, it doesn't happen just by itself, not usually.
So the picture coming together was not of an unexplained innocent death, said the prosecutor, but the story, perhaps, of a husband who came home after a night out and suddenly snapped. I want to get to the bottom. That panic on the 911 call could be the sound of a man realizing he had just done the unthinkable.
Could also be that this man ended up strangling his wife. All right. Freaked out over what he did. Didn't necessarily mean to do it. But, you know, it happened because he's twice your size, a whole lot stronger than she is. And whatever set him off, set him off. But did they arrest him?
Know that if it happened at all, we'd have to wait for an autopsy report? Hard evidence. And so 10 days after Leanna's death, when Seth and Raquel went ahead with their wedding, police were paying attention.
In Judaism in particular, we celebrate life before death.
Adam was there, made a speech, even cracked a few jokes about his brother.
And he just wanted for his brother, his twin brother, to have somewhat of a good time at his wedding.
But looked at another way, it seemed to the police somehow suspicious as it did when a couple of months after Lena's death, Adam seemed to be dating again.
So they kept an eye on him and waited for the medical examiner to issue his autopsy report waited four months, a year longer. This was not like some slick Miami TV show. Bureaucracies don't move so fast in real life.
But then it was April 2009, quite suddenly decision day. Coming up, was Lena Kaufmann murder? They pointed out suspicious markings on her neck, or is there another explanation, something to do with that spray tan? Has the FDA received complaints of seizures by people who have undergone phrasing? Yes, when Dateline continues. No matter how your workplace has evolved this year, some things haven't changed, you need to hire great employees as fast as possible. That's what you can expect with indeed, indeed is the number one job site in the world with more total visits than any other job site, according to comScore, unlike other sites, indeed gives you full control and payment flexibility over your hiring.
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Seventeen months after that desperate November morning and Adam Kaufmann claimed he was still in the dark, no clue, he said, as to how his Leanna died. He said dozens of calls to the Miami medical examiner's office went unanswered. So finally, he called the state board of Examiners to complain. Very nice guy, said Mr. Kaufman. I will look into it. Take care of it. Get back to you as soon as possible.
And the very next day there was a ruling on the cause of his death, but no one told Adam. Not yet.
It was a week later, a sultry Tuesday evening. Adam was working at a new ice cream shop. He and his brother opened during those boom to bust real estate days for developers. And what police and that was not uncommon, police always frequent our shop and I look back down and I see red dots on my shirt. All over my shirt, I look back up and then I see about 15 police officers, SWAT officers in the store and I see them.
There he is. And they're pointing at me. I'm like me. And they jump over the counter, throw me down to the ground, and I'm like, what's going on in walks? A gentleman plainclothes comes up to me and says, leans down while I'm on the floor and says, Remember me?
It was Detective Anthony Angulo asking the question. The investigator who poked around the house the morning Lena died, among the first who'd been suspicious of Adam's story. He says, I don't want to say a word real nasty. He said, you're under arrest for the murder of your wife again. Time for us. And I said, Oh, are you? Total shock and disbelief and I mean, this is not happening. This is a joke. This is this is a nightmare.
My having a nightmare.
The medical examiner had ruled the cause of Leanna's death was mechanical asphyxiation, that she even choked to death by a person. And now Adam was being charged with second degree murder.
They took him to the Dade County jail, locked him away.
I'm thinking myself, this is a mistake. This can't be this can't be happening. But it was happening. Days turned to weeks, weeks to months. Reality in. Adam was accused of murder.
What was your level of confidence or the lack of it as you sat in jail waiting? I was sitting in jail saying, OK, what have they going to realize what happened? They're going to find out the cause of death. They're going to find it. And then that's going to release me.
I was waiting for that. It didn't come for the past year and a half.
The children had no mother. Now they had no father. Finally, after Adam had been in jail three months, his attorneys arranged a bond hearing that so often happens in Florida. It turned into a mini trial. The state finally presenting its evidence against Adam at this big, strong man.
The only other adult in the house when Leanna died, strangled his wife to death, then lied to cover it up just to go to the state, played that 911 call in a courtroom packed with Adam's family, many of whom were hearing it for the first time as the tape continued to play.
One family member couldn't take it and passed out. There's a nurse attending, so I think you should proceed.
This was raw stuff seldom seen and stodgy Miami courtroom that occurred on following day.
We present the first witness was Detective Angulo, who revealed he'd been investigating Adam ever since.
That very first morning I examined the body present were a couple of other officers. They pointed out suspicious markings on her neck.
And there was something else I did observe what I believe to be particular, hemorrhaging in the eye and the actual eyelids and what indication, if any, the presence of fatigue in someone's eyes are either suggestive asphyxiation, asphyxiation, death by suffocation.
Detective Angelov said he was sure he'd gotten his man had been suspicious since he talked to Adam at the hospital. He seemed upset at one point and the other minute he was very angry. I could see his his jaw muscles clench, obviously disturbed, but it was strange going from being upset to angry.
And where had Adam Kaufman been earlier that night? Not sleeping. Investigators thought I remember his side of the bed, looked to them undisturbed. But on Lena's side, there were unusual smudges. The staining appears to be on the actual pillow itself and just below the pillow where the body would lie.
They were stains from the spray tan Lena got the previous evening when she wanted to look her best for Seth Kaufman's wedding. Ten days later, defense attorneys seized on that evidence and perhaps without intending to, they say, their case famous. Overnight, they called in an expert named Dr. Ronald Wright, the former chief medical examiner in Miami-Dade County.
In your investigation says the FDA received complaints of seizures by people who have undergone frustrating. Yes, you believe that the spray tan material should have been investigated for potentially causing an allergic reaction? Oh, sure. I mean, we don't know exactly what happened to Mrs. Scott. We know that she collapsed. We know she asphyxiated. But we don't know why any of that happened. And certainly there's a real possibility that that could have been caused by this exposure to the tan or she's got it all over her hands.
It certainly raises the possibility of an allergic reaction cause for that.
She gets her first spray tan the night before she passes away. Why not investigate it? Stranger things have happened. It would be negligent on our part not to do that. It was certainly negligent on their part not to test it.
It became known far and wide as the spray tan fence, the idea that Lena's death might have been caused by an allergic reaction one more ridicule than serious consideration.
It was it was almost comical, but they had a point. I mean, it was never tested, right, to see whether or not there was some possibility that that could have caused it.
Lastly, there was some testing done just for the heck of it after that. But even the doctor that they put on the stand could ascribe to that theory. I mean, I guess it sounded sexy, but it really wasn't feasible.
The judge was not persuaded either Adam would stay in jail, no bond. His family was devastated. Twin brother Seth left in tears.
As usual, we have defendants. But shortly after that hearing and one of those rare moments, the judge had a change of heart. It was just after Father's Day.
The judge said he used the term. I had a catharsis. He said, I'm going to let this boy go home to his kids.
It's a great day, except Adam would have to wear an electronic ankle monitor, a stark reminder he was not a free man at the real trial, but yet to come. When we come back, evidence about marks on Lena Coffman's neck and torso marks her best friend says she didn't see the night before when Lena showed off her new tan.
You said that she took off her jacket? Yes. Was she nude underneath your jacket? Yes. Did you notice any marks on her body at all?
No. When in an instant continues. Four and a half years after he buried his wife, Lena came the day of reckoning for Adam Kaufmann. Here he was charged with second degree murder, accused of killing her in the bathroom of their Georgia Florida home.
Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, you have been selected and sworn as the jury to try the state of Florida versus Adam Kaufman, as he had been since Vinas death.
Adam was surrounded by his protective family, including his identical twin, Seth. The family was terrified Adam was facing up to life in prison if convicted.
I was really worried because bottom line is that the fate of my twin brother rests in the hands of 12 people I don't know.
Dade County assistant prosecutor Joe Mansfield methodically laid out the state's case for the jury. There was, he argued, only one possible way to explain Leanna's death. Later, Kaufman died as a result of mechanical asphyxiation through her neck and the defendant, her husband. Because the one that did it, not ultimate evidence, would be scientific medical, said the prosecutor, but he wanted jurors to keep in mind the obvious. Adam Kaufman was the only adult home at the time of his death, giving him the opportunity to kill her and with his body builder strength and wherewithal to.
On top of that, Adam couldn't keep his story straight. Prosecutor Mansfield, version one came from the 911 call. What? Adam said he found Leanna on the floor. She's not breathing.
No, I don't know what to was, but a fire rescue lieutenant said Adam told him he found Lena somewhere else in the bathroom.
He told me word for word that she was found slumped over the toilet. And he indicated that if she was vomiting, kneeled in front of the toilet with her head down in front of the toilet.
But later at the hospital said that same EMT, he overheard Adam saying something else entirely.
Why is it that you took note of that third version? I took note of it because it was completely different from the other story he had told me. OK, this time he mentioned the patient being slumped over a magazine rack.
Chief Assistant State Attorney Kathleen Hoague supervised the case. She wanted jurors to know about Adams puzzling behavior that morning and called a firefighter to the stand.
He went from hysterical to calm demeanor or his emotions fluctuated. Yes, man. From hysterical to calm. Yes, ma'am.
And there were those other unusual things that the first responders that they just couldn't help but notice, like how they'd seen Adam Koffman dressed. Not at all.
Like someone who said he just woke up and stood out for me, that Mr. Coffin was completely dressed and he was just doing CPR. How does he have shoes, clothes on and why she completely naked? It just didn't it just didn't sit right. He didn't seem normal.
If, as Adam said, he'd been home all night, why was the front of his Mercedes warm to the touch?
I put my hand on the hood and I thought that it was extremely warm.
And of course, there were those marks on his neck and torso. They were fresh to the prosecutor. They weren't there the evening before when she showed her best friend her spray on tan.
You said that she took off her jacket? Yes. Did she nude underneath the jacket? Yes. Did you notice any marks on her body at all? No.
And I've been to a police officer, gave a stark description of the indentations he observed on Lena's neck.
And it was just consistent, consistent with fingertip size market.
And they called a witness who had been key to the investigation that morning.
Crime scene investigator Anna Howell, she testified about what she saw on Lena's hands to nail polish on his middle finger and index finger tips.
Were those chipped nails evidence of a struggle that morning? And then prosecutors presented the man they considered the most important witness of all, the senior medical examiner who determined Lena's cause of death.
What would be the manner of death, homicide? And what would it be?
A homicide, Dr. Hammer, of this mechanical asphyxiation could only occur at the hands of somebody else. Somebody else? Yes, somebody else.
And just to be sure, there was no doubt Mina was murdered. The prosecution provided evidence she couldn't have died of something like, say, heart failure. They called the plastic surgeon who gave her an EKG before giving her breast implants just four months before her death. She was a normal, healthy patient. Prosecutors wanted to prove that Adam wasn't all that distraught after the loss of his wife, so they called a woman he dated two months after her death.
You made a comment about his wedding ring? I did. I asked him if he was married. He said that his wife had passed. And I said, so when do you think you're going to ready to take that off?
At some point? Did you become intimate? Yes.
But as the state's case began to wind down, prosecutors could have no idea what would stick with the jury any more than they knew that their star, CSI witness was about to blow up on them.
Isn't it true now that you previously had an intimate sexual relationship with Detective Angledool?
Coming up, fireworks from a witness and from the victim's mother using the device. And it's the prosecution's case about to completely unravel when Dateline continues. Hey, I'm Andy, if you don't know me, it's probably because I'm not famous, but I did start a men's grooming company called Herries. The idea for Harrys came out of a frustrating experience I had buying razor blades. Most brands were overpriced, overdesigned and out of touch. And Harry's our approach is simple.
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You will hear that this is a prosecution. In search of a crime, an innocent man has been falsely charged with a crime that did not occur, which he did not commit, no crime at all.
So Defense Attorney Bill Metahuman, certainly not murder. The defense's claim that the blacked out collapsed, failed neck first onto a magazine rack, a freak set of mishaps that cut off her airflow and caused her death, a theory he could have proven easily, said attorney Matthew, even if it hadn't been for incompetent investigators.
For starters, he said, lead detective Anthony Angulo ordered this detective, Anna Howell, to disregard a key piece of evidence at the scene.
He was specifically told me not to take those items of evidence, those magazines into custody. Is that right?
The magazines in that rack said the defense was the key to the mystery.
They would have proven that Leanna fell there because they would have been stained by her fresh spray on tan.
I think the failure to collect the magazines in and of itself could constitute reasonable doubt. You never failed to take in to custody evidence, in fact, that Adams lawyers, the police were so determined to prove this was a murder.
They misread the scene entirely in these photographs prior to like, for example, today when Howard told the court she found chipped Polish on Lena's nails and her polish on the middle finger, pointing the finger at the detective's suggestion that Lena's husband attacked her and she fought for her life.
But the defense hired its own crime scene expert to look at that tiny bathroom space.
Did you find any signs of a struggle inside the house? I found nothing that would indicate anything like that. But to be fair, said the defense, how wasn't the only one who screwed up that morning, I put my hand on the side and I thought that it was extremely warm.
A police officer said the hood of Adam's car was warm to the touch, but the defense answered. Of course, the car hood was warm.
It was locked in a garage in a hot Miami night. Evidence of nothing.
Mr. Coffin was complete and dressed.
Prosecutors said the defense tried the same tact with those emergency workers. And they said Adam didn't seem to them like a man who just rolled out of bed to find his wife unconscious. They insisted he was fully clothed.
And yet that's not what the very first responder on the scene witnessed. I saw a man on top of a woman attempting what looked like CPR. What was the man wearing when you entered the room at that time? He was wearing boxers and T-shirt shirt. What those others, like they saw, said the defense was Adam's identical twin who arrived at the house perfectly dressed minutes after that 911 call. And I had no reason to change my opinion whatsoever. It's an instant off.
But what really stuck in the craw of Adam's lawyers was that medical examiner who ruled his death a homicide.
Why did it take him a year and a half to call it that? Because they said he was pressured into it by police.
And on cross-examination, cocounsel million ripped into the doctor, Detective Anthony Angulo.
And haven't you been pushing you to call it a homicide? Isn't that true? Objection, Your Honor.
That's that's not true, Counselor. And you know it.
And the defense used Lena's autopsy photos to make the case for its own theory that she died accidentally.
There are these marks on the under surface of the chin. These match the spines of the magazine in terms of a contact mark.
This former medical examiner testified for the defense that the pressure on her neck would have clearly blocked her airflow, killing her. But it was why the defense said Leanna collapsed. That was the real shocker.
These cells should not be here. The doctor said he took part in his heart and found and scarring.
This is an active focal, myocarditis, scarring of the heart.
But the state medical examiner never found heart disease.
The doctor explained to a riveted courtroom that llena likely had no idea just how sick she was until her heart suddenly gave out that morning.
Be the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
I do. And then, just for good measure, the defense called someone else with star power to the stand in congestive heart failure.
Dr. Michael Baden, the former New York City medical examiner and frequent medical expert in high profile murder cases, reviewed Leanna's autopsy file and said to him there was no question about it, that there was no murder.
She died of natural causes, even when his own mother said she tried to tell detectives that her daughter had suffered frequent fainting spells before her death, that it might indeed have been an accident, but they wouldn't listen.
How many calls were made to the detective trying to reach my son, my ex-husband and myself? I had to pull that two. I assume it was about twenty five, maybe more. It was something you rarely see.
A grieving mother defending the man accused of killing her daughter. She said Adam was and is like a son to her.
We are very close and usually even more closer than before. Free to you love Adam like my own son and has happened a number of times during this trial.
A state witness wound up winning points for the defense. Adam, so-called love interest, for example.
It wasn't quite like that. Yes, they dated for a while, but Adam wasn't going to get deeply involved.
She learned Adam was emotionally available, which he always made very clear from the very start. The red evidence tape. Finally, one last loose end.
Remember CSI and a whole earlier she testified that she, a married woman, had only a working relationship with lead Detective Angulo.
When you've been off duty, you socialize with Langoulant. No, sir, no.
But the very next day, she was called back to the stand and had to admit she hadn't told the truth.
Sir, you knew you had misrepresented your relationship to this jury on the stand under oath. Isn't that true, ma'am? Yes or no part of the case? Yes or no, ma'am. Is that true? Yes, thank you.
In fact, the two had had an affair. Are you married? Yes. Did you have an affair with Detective Angulo? Yes, and my husband is well aware of it, sir, and I am happily married and I don't have any issues with that any longer.
And she said the old affair never affected her work.
And with that, she stormed out of the courtroom to the defense.
It was clear, they said, that she and Angela were in cahoots and that a man wanted so badly to prove Adam a killer. The detective who never took the stand in this trial could not be trusted.
In his closing, the lawyer said it was Adam who was the real victim of a lousy police investigation. They bungled this investigation beyond recognition, Adam's detriment, causing the false charges to be lodged against him in this case.
But it was one person the court didn't hear from who maybe mattered most. Adam Kaufman. He opted not to take the stand in his defense, but he wanted to speak to us.
The problem with this case comes down to one word investigation. A rookie detective working his first homicide, a fellow in the medical examiner's office not doing a thorough autopsy. Miss Iseman has two beautiful grandchildren.
More infuriating, he said, was the prosecutors claim that Lena's mother was only standing by him.
So he let her see her grandchildren, the joy of her life that outraged Lena's mother.
You think she's going to go against him? Are you accusing me of. One of the prosecutors in his closing went after your family and basically said that your mother in law was a captive of your family, could do nothing to express your real opinion because otherwise she'd be left out in the cold. How dare he go after Nina's mother?
Lena's mother, who bravely came into that courthouse and stood up for the son in law that's charged with second degree murder of her daughter, his mother in law show of loyalty was striking.
Would it be enough to impress the jurors and save Adam? Coming up, I know I have the truth on my side.
No evidence of a strangulation. The proof is there. We the jury in Miami Dade County, Florida, when in an instant continues.
Nearly five years have passed since the Kaufman's death, and now her husband, Adam, was about to learn his fate at the Miami courthouse.
Two possibilities now, an immediate handcuffed escort to spend up to the rest of his life in prison for instant and criminal freedom in the arms of his family. I had my entire family there with support. That's why I was able to walk into that courtroom every day holding my head up high. Because I know I have the truth on my side, but prosecutor Kathleen Hope believe her side has presented the real truth that Adam had choked Linda to death after an argument early that morning at their home.
No evidence of a strangulation.
The proof is there. It didn't happen by her, by itself.
We know Adam and his twin brother Seth in the family all watched in anticipation as the judge said the jury went to deliberate like the jury may retire. I just wanted a fair trial because I knew once all the evidence was presented that there's no way that 12 people can sit there.
I don't care who you are. They were gone. They're out of the room. You couldn't do anything about it.
Nothing you could do about it. Jurors Ryan O'Donnell and Bernard Jennings said they were ready for the task ahead. Jennings is a court certified mediator, making him a natural choice to be their foreman. Did you call for a vote right away or.
No, not initially.
When we went in the room, we took time to go through each piece of evidence and deliberate, deliberate here, with permission of the court is the actual jury room where we could see how they literally weighed the evidence.
I drew three scales on the chalkboard to the far right will be broken of innocent and to the far left. Broken is guilty and said you have to fit in one of these positions. So we tried to fit everything in that to come up with a decision.
They paid close attention to the conflicting testimony from those different medical examiners.
But more than anything, the jurors were determined to listen to that nine one one call one more time very carefully.
It's much easier to hear that, you know, within the confines of a jury room when there's 12 of us huddled around a laptop. You know, I have been a month since we last listened to that nine one one call. So I think it was imperative that we got a chance to hear it again.
And when they listened, they said they heard a man who wasn't changing his story but was simply beside himself and utterly confused.
You know, obviously, when you first hear it in the openings, he said, I don't know what's going on over and over again when we listen to it during the end in the jury room, you think, man, this is just a terrified man that really has no idea what's going on. And after eight hours of deliberation, they had reached their verdict.
We did jury in Miami Dade County, Florida, on this. They on June 2012, five gas bottles. The defendant is not guilty.
So far, we all Addams Family and friend burst with emotion. So what was that like? I'll tell you, I. I didn't hear her reading it. I put my head down and all I could think about were Lena and my kids. I hear not guilty. I hear crying in the back. That's it. It's over. It's over. It's over. It's over. Finality.
Later, Adam and Seth pose for pictures holding the jury charge sheet with those words he'd longed to hear not guilty, the very words Miami prosecutors had dreaded. They'd spent a huge amount of resources on this case and lost.
And the jury foreman told us he believed the case should not have gone to trial at all.
Why did the state bring this case to trial when there's such evidence that said, no, don't do this. Adam Kaufman is innocent. He's not not guilty. Adam Kaufman is innocent. I don't apologize for the case.
I'm not going to. But you believe a murderer has gotten away with it? He's not the first one. He won't be the last. Look, that guy, he paid for a long a lot of money for a defense and he got it. And he's a very lucky man.
Given what he's been through. Lucky might not be the word Adam would use. Still, he says he's not angry, not bitter. I can only move forward.
I can't move backwards. I can only move forward and do the right things for my family, my children, myself.
And as for the team that tried to put him away, a discovery that the people who were who were looking for evidence against you had been actually having an affair and maybe couldn't be relied on to tell the truth. That's right.
What was that like? Poetic justice. Things happen for a reason. I am a firm believer of that. And meanness Spirit was definitely with us during this trial and she was watching over it.
Lina he will always remember Lina, he said, and the love he lost in one instant that November morning. Where do you put her now? She's with me every day. Every day. You know, there's not a day that goes by that I don't think about her. The kids think about her. She'll always have a place in my heart. We have pictures of her all over the home. Our wedding photos are just pictures of her so the children will never forget who their mother was, that is.
And she's still a very big part of their lives. Every day. That's all for now. I'm Lester Holt, thanks for joining us.