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    Major events in the Aisenberg case

    By JOHN MARTIN

    © St. Petersburg Times, published February 22, 2001


    1997

    Nov. 24: Marlene Aisenberg calls 911 to report that her 5-month-old daughter, Sabrina, disappeared from her crib between midnight and 6:42 a.m.

    Nov. 25: The FBI and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement join the investigation as Hillsborough sheriff's divers search a pond behind the Bloomingdale subdivision where the Aisenbergs had lived since 1991. Deputies use dogs to search woods near the house but find no trace of the baby.

    Nov. 26: After intense questioning by FBI agents and sheriff's detectives, the Aisenbergs hire prominent defense lawyer Barry Cohen. They stop talking to authorities about the night Sabrina disappeared, authorities say.

    Dec. 23: In a prepared speech delivered at Cohen's downtown Tampa office, Marlene and Steve Aisenberg ask whoever had Sabrina to return her. That night, investigators would later allege in the indictment dismissed Wednesday, the couple talk about how Steve Aisenberg killed Sabrina and how they need to cover it up.

    1998

    Jan. 9: After shunning the media for almost six weeks after their baby vanished, the Aisenbergs begin a media tour with an interview with the St. Petersburg Times. In the days that follow, they appear on Dateline NBC, Good Morning America, Today, Oprah and Larry King Live, and meet with local news media.

    Jan. 22: Hillsborough sheriff's investigators launch an unusual public counterattack, suggesting at a news conference that they had serious suspicions about the Aisenbergs.

    1999

    Early May: A neighbor of the Aisenbergs said that Steve had moved to his home state of Maryland and that his wife and children planned to follow.

    Sept. 9: A federal grand jury indicts the Aisenbergs on charges of making false statements, accusing the couple of fabricating a kidnapping story in November 1997 to explain Sabrina's disappearance. The couple insists they are innocent.

    Oct. 19: U.S. Magistrate Mark A. Pizzo rebuffs an effort by prosecutors to push Cohen from the case, ruling that the government failed to prove he was likely to be called as a witness at the Aisenbergs' trial.

    2000

    Jan. 11: Attorneys for Steven and Marlene Aisenberg insist that conversations secretly taped by investigators inside the couple's Brandon home contain none of the references to cocaine use and violence that prosecutors say are on the tape.

    Sept. 28: U.S. District Judge Steven Merryday orders prosecutors to turn over transcripts of the proceedings of the grand jury that indicted the Aisenbergs.

    Oct. 18: Detectives search a Pasco County home in the Willow Bend subdivision for Sabrina's remains. Homes in the subdivision were developed by Steven Aisenberg's former employer, M/I Homes.

    Nov. 13: Merryday rules that the secretly recorded tapes of the Aisenbergs are "largely inaudible" and of poor quality.

    Dec. 22: Hearings to determine whether taped conversations of the Aisenbergs should be used as evidence conclude.

    2001

    Feb. 14: Pizzo recommends the tapes be thrown out.

    Feb. 16: Merryday asks Pizzo to consider whether the indictment should be dismissed.

    Feb. 21: Federal prosecutors ask Merryday to dismiss the indictment because without the tapes "there is no longer a reasonable probability of conviction against the defendants."

    - Compiled from Times files by news researcher John Martin.

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