After spending more than four years in jail, it appeared Kristina Gaime was finally heading for trial Dec. 1 to face charges she killed one son and tried to kill the other in 1999.
But her defense team cast doubt on that date Thursday, seeking an emergency hearing to ask that Circuit Judge Wayne Cobb delay the trial until at least late March, citing new secret information that needs to be studied.
Gaime, 38, was arrested in May 1999 and charged with first-degree murder in the death of her 6-year-old son, Mathew Rotell, and with attempted murder of her 8-year-old son, Adam Rotell.
Authorities say that in April of that year, after returning home from a family trip, she drugged the boys at her Land O'Lakes townhome, loaded them into the family minivan, directed the exhaust into the cabin and got inside with them in an apparent murder-suicide attempt.
Gaime has been in a Pasco County jail, without bail, since her arrest. Her trial has been delayed repeatedly. Earlier this year, her family hired a new defense team.
In addition to asking for a delay motion filed in Circuit Court this week, attorneys Lyann Goudie and Mark Ware indicate they will try to have the trial moved out of Pasco County, citing "intense, pervasive and continuous media coverage."
Ware was in court Wednesday and told the judge he would disclose the new information the defense team has but only if the information could be discussed behind closed doors, without prosecutors present.
"The reason for the request for the (private) hearing before disclosure of any of these details is that these details would disclose to the court defense work product, strategies and witnesses that the defense has not yet determined will be disclosed on the record," Ware's motion states.
In the motion, Ware and Goudie lay some of the blame for the delay on the previous defense team of Anthony Ferlita and Bob Nutter, claiming that while the pair indicated in court documents they planned to use an insanity defense, they never listed witnesses who would back that defense.
In addition, Ware and Goudie say they want time to question more potential witnesses, to fight the use of some state evidence, and Goudie has prior commitments until late March, including other pending trials and a scheduled visit from her son, a soldier stationed in Iraq.
The delay wouldn't harm the prosecution's case, the motion argues, and forcing Gaime to go to trial in December "would constitute an abuse of discretion, would violate Ms. Gaime's due process rights, and would prevent counsel from adequately completing discovery and litigating all appropriate pretrial issues."
Cobb agreed to hear arguments at 4 p.m. Wednesday and said the court would remain open into the evening if the hearing runs long.
Prosecutor Phil Van Allen said the state would object to the delay and would fight moving the case to another county.