JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Jury selection began Monday for the trial of a Florida man who prosecutors say killed his wife in 1993 because she had plans to leave him with their son.
Michael Haim’s trial in Jacksonville started this week more than a quarter century after his wife, Bonnie, disappeared from their home. Haim has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder.
A key witness is Haim’s biological son, Aaron Fraser.
As a 3-year-old boy at the time of his mother's disappearance, Fraser told a child welfare worker, "Daddy hurt mommy," or something similar, according to detectives.
"Aaron also stated that 'Daddy shot Mommy,' 'Daddy placed Mommy in timeout,' and 'My daddy could not wake her up,'" a 2015 arrest affidavit said.
Haim lost custody of his son in 1999, WJXT reported.
While Haim remained a suspect, detectives had trouble building a case without a body.
In 2014, having won his childhood home as part of a wrongful death lawsuit against his father, Fraser discovered his mother's skeletal remains while making repairs to the property, according to detectives with the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office.
A water leak required Fraser to remove a concrete slab underneath which he found the badly composed remains.
Fraser described in court on Tuesday accidentally busting the bag he found and discovering a “coconut object” that turned out to be his mother’s skull, WJXT reported.
DNA tests confirmed the remains were those of Bonnie Haim and a medical examiner concluded she died from a homicide “by unspecified means,” according to the affidavit.
A spent shell casing found where Bonnie Haim was buried was the same type of caliber as a rifle that Haim owned, the affidavit said.
According to the affidavit, Haim was abusive to his wife and she had made plans to move into an apartment with their son while he was away on a trip. She had secretly opened a bank account and when Haim found out about it and made her close it, she started giving money to a trusted friend to hold for her.
Haim, 52, who had moved to North Carolina by the time of his arrest in 2015, claimed his wife left their home without their son late one night in January 1993 after they had an argument about their marital problems. Haim also said he went searching for his wife, although he didn't notify law enforcement about her disappearance. Law enforcement wasn't told about the disappearance until a maintenance worker found her purse in a hotel dumpster and called police.
“Michael Haim was the last known individual to have contact with victim,” the arrest affidavit said. “The suspect admits that he and the victim were fighting over marital issues and that she was planning to leave and take their child.”