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Gaime: Wife did not kill her son

(ran PC edition of Pasco Times)

Jerry Gaime, who is separated from Kristina Gaime, believes an intruder injured her and killed her son.

He hasn't seen her since the funeral. He writes to her in jail but doesn't think she gets his letters. She hasn't called. Much of what he knows about her case, he reads on the Internet.

But Jerry Gaime _ husband of Kristina Gaime, the Land O'Lakes woman accused of killing her 6-year-old son in April _ is sure authorities arrested the wrong person.

Speaking out for the first time since the death of his stepson, Mathew Rotell, Gaime said he has given police a list of evidence suggesting an intruder could have done the killing.

In a search of the house after police left, Gaime said he found a number of suspicious items investigators had missed.

If his wife planned to kill herself and her two sons, why did Gaime find clothes in the washer? Would she have bothered doing the wash if she was about to end it all?

Why was there an uneaten cheese pizza from Hungry Howie's in the kitchen when the police arrived? Could an intruder have gotten in by posing as a delivery person? And why were there two five-dollar bills next to the pizza box when Kristina always paid by check?

"I don't think Kristina would ever do anything like this," Gaime said. "Did (the police) do their job? No. They pinpointed Kris from the beginning."

Pasco Sheriff's Office spokesman Jon Powers said he did not know of any list of evidence from Jerry Gaime. Detectives found no evidence supporting the intruder theory.

"They keep saying someone assaulted her, but nobody has reported that to us," he said. "If they are saying she's a victim of a crime, then why haven't we been able to talk to her?"

Gaime, 38, a former undertaker and rodeo bull rider, spoke with the Times on Sunday at a Dallas airport hotel. Dressed in jeans, an oversized belt buckle, leather boots and a white cowboy hat, he said he still loves his wife but has stayed in Texas because of a job transfer and a desire to avoid the spotlight. He said he has received numerous media calls, including an inquiry from a Hollywood movie producer. He hasn't returned them.

The Gaimes met in Brandon in 1996, when Kristina, a hospice nurse, was sent to care for Gaime's dying grandfather. Before he died, the grandfather told Gaime, "This is the one for you."

The couple were married a month later after attending a rodeo in San Angelo, Texas, Jerry Gaime's hometown. A justice of the peace performed the ceremony at the local sheriff's office.

The Gaimes lived on a farm in Brandon. From the start there was conflict between the couple and Kristina's former husband, Steve Rotell, whom she suspected of sexually abusing Mathew and his brother, Adam. Gaime said he tried to be "the father they didn't have, someone who would protect them and not hurt them." Investigators repeatedly have cleared Rotell of sexual abuse.

Still, the boys' behavior made Gaime suspicious of Rotell, who he said often tried to provoke him and once filed assault charges against him after an altercation at a baseball field. Gaime was found not guilty.

Gaime said there were times he "wanted a piece" of Rotell but restrained himself for the boys' sake.

The Gaimes separated in October 1998, partly because of the complications from Kristina's previous marriage. Gaime said she left him in part because she feared what he might do in a confrontation with Rotell.

Gaime was in Texas on April 12 when Mathew's body was found in his mother's minivan. The child died of carbon monoxide poisoning and an overdose of morphine. Kristina Gaime is accused of drugging both boys, then trying to asphyxiate them in the van. Adam survived and now lives with his father.

When authorities arrived, Kristina Gaime was lying on the couch with unexplained burns on her back, buttocks and feet. Gaime said he has searched the Web for an explanation for the wounds, which Kristina's parents thought were caused by an intruder.

Investigators also found what appeared to be suicide notes. Detectives later flew to Dallas and asked Gaime if the handwriting was Kristina's. He declined to say what he told them.

Gaime said he keeps a picture of Mathew and Adam on his dresser. He thinks about writing to Adam but doesn't know if he would get the letter.

He asked reporters whether they had seen his wife.

"If you do, just let her know I love her. That's all I can say."

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