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Aisenberg grand jury continues

Parents of children who went to a play school run by the missing baby's mother offer testimony.

By MARTY ROSEN

© St. Petersburg Times, published August 13, 1998


TAMPA -- A federal grand jury, which first began hearing evidence in February in the case of missing baby Sabrina Aisenberg, on Wednesday heard from two parents whose children briefly attended a play school run by Marlene Aisenberg, the baby's mother.

Dr. Jonathan Axel, whose son attended the Aisenbergs' play school, declined to comment on his appearance before the grand jury. The second parent, a woman, also declined comment.

Sabrina, who was 5 months old at the time, vanished nine months ago from her parent's Valrico home.

No one has been charged in connection with her disappearance, although investigators have continued to say that the Aisenbergs have not been ruled out as suspects in the case.

Barry Cohen, the Tampa lawyer who was hired by the family two days after the baby disappeared, said Wednesday that prosecutors are wasting taxpayer dollars by creating a public spectacle.

"This grand jury foolishness is just foolishness," he said. "I don't know what the grand jury is doing and I don't care what the grand jury is doing because there is nothing for them to be doing."

Cohen said Marlene and Steve Aisenberg met for an hour last month with more than 20 investigators, led by Hillsborough County Sheriff's Maj. Gary Terry.

Cohen, who was at the meeting, repeated his offer to allow investigators to question the parents with him present and a tape recorder running. He said the offer was declined.

Both sides have been at an impasse since the early days of the investigation over Cohen's demand to tape any interviews with him present.


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