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Jail snitches, forensic evidence center stage at Michael Haim trial

26 years after Bonnie Haim disappeared, her husband is on trial for murder

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Two inmates testified in Michael Haim's murder trial Wednesday that he confessed to killing his wife while he was in jail with them in 2015. 

"He started talking about, you know, how he killed his wife. How he chocked her. How her son was mad at him. He buried her in the yard," Terrance Richardson said.

But for every minute Richardson and a second inmate, Keshaun Callwood, answered questions for the prosecution, the defense spent at least two minutes detailing their arrest records, the aliases they have used and their history of not telling the truth.

Haim is accused of second-degree murder in the death of his 23-year-old wife.

One of the inmates said that even though he is a 300-pound man, he feared for his safety when he shared a cell with Michael Haim.

While police considered the husband their prime suspect ever since Bonnie Haim disappeared in January 1993, he was not arrested until the couple's son -- who was 3½ years old at the time --  found her remains while taking out a pool and shower while renovating the property for sale in 2014.

"I picked up the coconut object and it ended up being the top portion of her skull," Aaron Fraser testified Tuesday. "I had it in my hand. .... Looked back in the hole and you could see teeth. At that point in time, you could see the top portion of her eye sockets."

UNCUT: Aaron Fraser's testimony on finding remains

A .22-caliber shell was also found near the body, he said, and Michael Haim owned a .22-caliber rifle.
Although a medical examiner could not confirm how she was killed, Assistant State Attorney Alan Mizrahi told the jury that Michael Haim shot her and then buried her there in 1993.

Haim backyard crime scene photo

Much of Wednesday's testimony concerned forensic evidence, including graphic photos of the recovery of Bonnie Haim's remains.

The day ended with a medical examiner describing the condition of the remains and the Bonnie Haim's likely cause of death.

SLIDESHOW: Crime scene photos

Former Florida Department of Law Enforcement agents and a retired Jacksonville detective reviewed crime-scene photos of the recovery of Bonne Haim's remains in 2014, plus evidence of the recovery of her purse and abandoned car near Jacksonville International Airport in the first hours after she was reported missing a quarter-century ago.

Defense attorneys grilled former FDLE crime analyst Alan Miller about why the body wasn't found earlier.

Lawyer: "Are you able, as you sit here today, to say that the body was not in the yard on March 17th (1993) when you did that search?:
Miller: "I can't say, No."
Lawyer: "Is it significantly possible you missed her?"
Miller: "Oh, yes."
Lawyer: "Why do you say that?'  
Miller: "Well, for one, she was found under the pallet. Her remains were found under the pallet.  And we didn't search under that. There was nothing about that that led us to believe it had ever been moved."

Haim's defense attorney, Janis Warren, told the jury Tuesday that prosecutors do not have enough evidence to prove his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

"We agree she's dead. We agree that's her body in the backyard. But they have to prove to you that he did it," she said.

Did toddler witness his mother's killing?

Before describing how his mother's remains were found on Tuesday, Aaron Frasier told prosecutors he has no recollection of his birth mother's disappearance. But a caseworker at the time was quoted in Michael Haim's arrest affidavit saying, "Daddy shot mommy."

That caseworker, Brenda Medders, testified Tuesday about her conversation with the boy in 1993. She said Aaron told her he knew his mother was hurt. When she asked who had hurt her, Medders said the boy told her, "His daddy. His father."

During extensive cross-examination, Medders confirmed that she had a bachelor's degree in social work at the time and had worked in the field for about one year when she was asked to interview Aaron.

UNCUT: Social worker Brenda Medders' testimony

Asked pointedly if she had asked the boy when his mother was hurt, if she had ascertained if he knew the difference between right and wrong or if she had tried to determine if the boy had been coached, she answered she had not.

Asked why she didn't, Medders answered, "Due to his young age."

"What I was trying to do is gather as many facts as I could, which he gave me many,"  she said.

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Specializes in Clay County issues, general assignment reporting and stories off the beaten path and anchors weekend evening newscasts.

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