And Kaufman’s defense team mounted a fierce attack on the medical evidence, offering two forensic pathologists, former Palm Beach County medical examiner John Marraccini and Michael Baden, a former New York City medical examiner who has been consulted on numerous high-profile cases.
Marraccini, proclaiming he “was on the hunt” for the true cause of death, testified that he discovered “scarring” in a sample of the woman’s heart that was missed by Hyma’s staff.
While Hyma and the state experts contended that the scar was not significant, Marriccini said it caused an “electrical disturbance” that led Eleonora Kaufman to faint. Marriccini even kneeled on the ground in front of the leather magazine rack to show how he believed how Kaufman’s wife fell, succumbing to accidental “positional asphyxia.”
Baden testified that the woman likely died of “congestive” heart failure. Both jurors, in interviews with The Miami Herald, said that Baden’s testimony was persuasive.
Matthewman and Milian also successfully attacked the integrity of the police investigation, lambasting Aventura police for failing to interview relatives about Eleonora Kaufman’s history of fainting, and for not impounding some of the evidence, such as the magazines in the rack.
They also ripped into the inexperienced lead detective, Anthony Angulo, and the married female crime-scene technician who admitted sleeping with him. In a scene replayed often by television news stations, the technician — after a withering defense cross-examination — slammed the courtroom door as she walked out.
O’Donnell, 23, a Barry University alumni relations employee, said he agreed that Dr. Hyma’s opinion relied too heavily on Aventura’s troubled police detective, who was not called to testify by either side.
“Garbage in, garbage out,” O’Donnell said of the investigation, echoing a defense line of questioning. “It’s an excellent point.”