Boy recounts his night of horror
By CHASE SQUIRES
© St. Petersburg Times, published February 13, 2001
DADE CITY -- That strange night, Adam Rotell told police, his mother gave him six pills. She called them aspirin.
That, the boy said, was unusual. She usually gave them Tylenol.
She loaded him and his little brother, Mathew, in the family minivan in the garage for the night.
That was strange, too. The boys had never slept in the van before.
When morning came, Adam woke in a haze and couldn't stir his brother.
And his mother, Kristina Gaime, was acting strange.
For the first time, 8-year-old Adam Rotell's story of the night of April 11, 1999, has come to light in newly released court documents, told through a detective who interviewed the boy hours after his 6-year-old brother's death.
"He remembers waking up and seeing his brother laying in the front on the (minivan) floor, and his mother was laying in the back," Pasco County sheriff's Detective William Davis said, recalling the interview.
"He remembers waking up hot and sweaty and that he was very thirsty. He remembers trying to wake up his brother. He remembers screaming at his mom to wake her up."
In the videotaped interview with Davis, the boy talked about the night his brother died in their Land O'Lakes home. Gaime, 36, has been charged with murder and attempted murder.
The documents also included a doctor's report that indicated injuries Gaime said were caused by an attacker are more like bedsores that might have been caused by passing out in the van. And a medical examiner contends Mathew didn't just find the pills that killed him, someone gave them to him.
Davis, the detective, said Adam told him he didn't remember anything out of the ordinary on April 11, 1999, until his mother told him to take some aspirin.
"He had said that him and his brother were watching television and his mother gave both of them what he said were six aspirins each," detective William Davis testified in a newly released deposition.
The pills tasted bad, the boy told Davis.
"Then, later on, he remembers his mom carrying both him and his brother out to the van," Davis testified. "He also said his mother had placed blankets in the van as if they were going to sleep in the van. And he said this is the first time they had ever slept in the van."
Mathew's body was discovered in the minivan at his Clubside Loop home in Land O'Lakes on the morning of April 12.
A hose authorities think was used to direct exhaust into the van was found nearby. Adam and Gaime were found inside the home, alive.
According to Dr. Marie Hansen, a medical examiner, Mathew died of a morphine overdose, possibly enhanced by carbon monoxide poisoning.
Investigators say Gaime drugged her boys, put them in the van and tried to poison herself and the children with the exhaust.
Despite theories that carbon monoxide or a beating had caused blisters on Gaime's left ankle and buttock that later required surgery, they were likely the result of pressure sores, similar to bedsores, according to lead detective Brett Landsberg. Gaime apparently suffered them while in the minivan, he said.
Unconscious and in an awkward position inside the van, jammed against a metal ledge with her hip bone digging into the skin, the blisters could have formed in minutes, Landsberg said.
Gaime has yet to face trial, but a date may be set at a Wednesday hearing.
Her attorneys first argued that she was unable to stand trial. Then, in December, they said she could go to trial but would claim she was insane at the time because of "severe mental and emotional defects."
In the new documents, detectives described the commotion at Gaime's house as detectives and crime technicians combed the area and Gaime's father demanded help for her.
Davis said he found Adam in an upstairs bedroom, playing quietly but apparently confused. The boy was sweating and looked disheveled, he said.
Downstairs, Gaime's father, Gary McDuffie, was loud and visibly upset, Landsberg said.
"He approached me screaming that he wanted something done with his daughter; his daughter needed help," Landsberg testified. "He began yelling at me and jabbing me in the chest with his finger."
Davis said Adam didn't say a lot until a day later.
The scene was emotionally hard on investigators, Davis said, and he later gave Adam a gift from his desk.
"I took a liking to him, you know," Davis said.
He said he immediately figured the scene as "a murder-suicide gone bad."
A week later, Davis said he talked with Temple Terrace resident Naomi Singleton, daughter of one of the hospice patients that Gaime, a nurse, tended to. Gaime told her she was ready to go to heaven and was ready for her children to go to heaven, Singleton said.
Singleton's housekeeper, Cyvonne Davy said she had a similar conversation with Gaime, Davis said.
"Mrs. Gaime was kind of infatuated on her kids are ready to go to heaven and she's ready to go to heaven," Davis said he learned. "They were definitely relating to me that heaven was a main concern for Mrs. Gaime."
Hansen said her investigation revealed Mathew had probably been dead several hours before he was discovered. And she said he did not cause the overdose.
"It appears that Mathew was given these medications," she testified. "He did not go around the house and steal them or get into the medication cabinet and then take a whole mess of them."
Gaime continues to be held without bail in the Pasco County Jail in Land O'Lakes.
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