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Son, sister of murdered woman want Michael Haim sentenced to life

Judge hears testimony, to announce sentence Tuesday in 1993 murder

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The families of Michael Haim and Bonnie Haim sat in a Duval County courtroom Friday divided by the truth. 

Last month, a jury found Michael Haim guilty of second-degree murder in the 1993 disappearance and death of his 23-year-old wife, Bonnie Haim. In 2014, her skull and other remains were found after their son, Aaron Fraser, took possession of his boyhood home and was digging in the backyard while doing home repairs.

After hearing from both sides of the family, Circuit Judge Steven Whittington said he would rule Tuesday on how long Michael Haim will spend in prison.

During the sentencing hearing, prosecutors played a slideshow of Bonnie Haim's life which ends with a video showing her and Aaron the Christmas before her death. For a moment, she looks into the camera as Aaron shares a hug with her. It's one of the few happy memories he has of his mother.

Also watching the presentation was Michael Haim in his jail jumpsuit. Again, as he has in previous court appearances, he showed very little emotion.

PHOTOS: Bonnie Haim's life, legacy

"I don't know what a fair sentence would be. I do know that every day that Michael Haim was a free man I lived in fear that he may come for me like he said he would. I was the one person on this planet that had knowledge of what he had done and could stand in the way of his liberty," Aaron Fraser told the court.

Fraser said his fear grew when he unearthed his mother's remains on Dec. 14, 2014. He found some relief Aug. 24, 2015, when his father was arrested on a charge of murder. But when his father bonded out of jail four months later, the anxiety returned.

"I would ask that Michael get a sentence that would ensure that I do not have to be concerned about ever running into him again," Fraser said.

WATCH: Aaron Fraser's full victim impact statement

The state is asking for life in prison and the now-adult son's testimony shed light on the impact of his mother's murder. 

"People have repeatedly asked me how I feel. Isn't it great that Michael was found guilty? That is not at all how I feel. Mother is still dead. I am forever scarred. Scarred by the trauma of witnessing her murder and the subsequent abuse," Fraser said.

Fraser explained that the trauma dictates his daily life.

"I spent many years sleeping with a brick under my pillow feeling the need to protect myself in case someone came in the middle of the night," he said.

Though he was only 3 when it happened, he knows his father killed his mother. 

"My credibility was evidenced by the fact that I drew pictures of my mom in a hole curled in the same position as she was in when I found her (remains in the ground) on Dolphin Avenue. I said that she had been shot. I said that she was buried. I said that Michael killed her. Today we know all of that is true."

When called to give her victim impact statement, Liz Peak shows the judge a portrait of her sister, Bonnie Haim, and her son, Aaron.

The defense called Michael Haim's family and friends to the stand, and they told the court he's a good man and they don't believe he murdered his first wife.

Janette Siers, his aunt, told the court that before the murder, Michael Haim got along with his then-wife and son.

"Anytime I saw them him and Bonnie, he was always joking and they were loving. I never saw anything bad and even Aaron, Aaron always liked to stay with his dad and his mom and they were both good parents," Siers said.

Michael Haim's current wife, Ann Wright, said that he is innocent and she hopes he gets the least sentence possible. 

"The impacts are just unfathomable really. I struggle, I'm sorry," Wright said as she began to cry.

Joanne Phillips, a family friend, told the story of a gentle, kind man.  

"Every child that has ever been around him falls, they fall in love with him -- my grandchildren and his nieces, his step-grandchildren and step-daughter," Phillips said. "He's just great."

Whittington listened to the testimony and victim impact statements that he will consider before he announces Michael Haim's sentence, set for Tuesday.

Michael Haim’s defense lawyer is asking the judge for a sentence that would be in keeping with the guidelines in place in 1993, which had a range of seven-to-22 years for second-degree murder. Prosecutors and Bonnie Haim's family are asking for the current minimum sentence for second-degree murder: life in prison.

About the Authors:

16-year veteran journalist and Emmy Award winning anchor

At WJXT for a quarter of a century, Mary Baer anchors the 5, 6 and 10 p.m. news weekdays.