MAYS LANDING — An Atlantic County Superior Court judge said Friday he will render his decision next week on whether to approve a request by Atlantic County Prosecutor Damon Tyner to obtain a DNA sample from Dr. James Kauffman in the 2012 Linwood homicide of his wife, April.
Judge Bernard DeLury said he will make the decision Tuesday, and it will be sealed, meaning it will not be public.
Dr. Kauffman was not present at the proceedings.
On March 15, Tyner announced his office was re-examining all open homicides dating to 1970 in the county. The May 10, 2012, homicide of April Kauffman, a radio host and veterans advocate who received the Governor’s Award for Community Service shortly before her death, is one of the open cases the Prosecutor’s Office is investigating.
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Arguments were heard in DeLury’s courtroom, with James Kauffman represented by Edwin Jacobs and Seth Levy representing the state. Levy said a cheek-swab DNA sample is being requested as part of the investigation.
Jacobs presented several procedural objections to the collection of the sample, from how it would be collected to where, under whose supervision and by whom. He argued a warrant would be needed to collect the sample and that no warrant could be issued without probable cause.
“If he is not a suspect, then how do you get probable cause?” asked Jacobs. He called the investigation a wild-goose chase that has gone on for five years, adding his client has provided the Prosecutor’s Office with other leads in the case.
Levy called the DNA collection a basic, noninvasive sample.
“That is less than a probable-cause matter,” Levy said.
Jacobs said it would make sense that Dr. Kauffman’s DNA would be present in the home because he lived there. He said his client has a skin condition that causes him to bleed.
One piece of information that had not been released previously was that a DNA sample from a blood stain on a blanket in the guest bedroom of the couple’s home came back mixed.
Levy said April Kauffman’s DNA was present in the sample. He argued that obtaining a sample from Dr. Kauffman would not prove guilt or innocence but could exclude him.
“We need to investigate every lead. We are not labeling anyone. We are following every lead,” Levy said.
Levy said Dr. Kauffman had a financial gain in the death of April Kauffman, citing two insurance policies of which he was a beneficiary. One was a 12-year-old policy and another a 4-year-old policy totaling $600,000.
Outside the courtroom, Tyner said he was not expecting an answer from DeLury on Friday. Asked whether there are any suspects being named in the homicide, Tyner said there were none at this time.
Friends of April Kauffman sat in the gallery listening to both sides of the argument.
Lee Darby, a longtime friend of April Kauffman, was disappointed the judge did not make a decision Friday.
“Why doesn’t he (Dr. Kauffman) just agree to give a sample? It is a simple request, and if he is innocent, then why won’t he just let them take the sample and have it over with?” Darby asked. “We have all been living this nightmare for five years. April’s daughter needs some closure, and her friends need some closure.”