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Judge Ditches Guidelines, Gives Man Life Over 1993 Killing

He cites toll on son, who witnessed the crime as a toddler
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted May 23, 2019 12:50 PM CDT
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Stock photo.   (Getty Images/Motortion)

(Newser) – A quarter-century after a toddler told police his father hurt his mother, that man has been locked up. Michael Haim, 52, was sentenced Tuesday to life in prison for the 1993 murder of his 23-year-old wife, Bonnie. Haim lived for years off Bonnie's life insurance policy before his son Aaron Fraser, adopted by another family following his mother's death, found her body buried in the backyard of his childhood home in Jacksonville, Fla., in 2014. Haim was arrested the following year but posted bail and was free until his April trial, reports the Florida Times-Union. Convicted of second-degree murder after 90 minutes of jury deliberation, he was to be sentenced according to 1993 guidelines, which recommended seven to 22 years in prison, per the AP. Bonnie's family asked for a 26-year sentence, to symbolize time passed since the murder.

Judge Steven Whittington went a step further, citing the toll on Fraser. The "therapy, the ongoing depression, the suicidal ideations and the feeling of fear that he has had to endure is the exact type of emotional trauma that justifies an upward departure" from guidelines, Whittington wrote in applying the life sentence. Bonnie had reportedly planned to leave her husband the same month she vanished. Her car was found parked at an airport, while her purse was found in a trash can at an inn nearby. "I always believed [Haim] killed her and that justice needed to happen," Fraser tells First Coast News. But now, he feels compelled to reach out to a man he spent most of his life trying to avoid. "There is a little bit of me thinking about writing him a letter, pleading for him to tell me what happened, now that he has nothing on the line," he says. (Read more murder stories.)

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