Prosecutors release discs of Kimberly Kessler's jailhouse calls to defense
Final report on her mental competency could be delayed due to discovery material
NASSAU COUNTY, Fla. – The defense lawyer for Kimberly Kessler has given notice to the trial judge that a final report on her mental competency is going to be delayed because of new discovery material she just received from prosecutors.
News4Jax learned of the notice Wednesday, before a pretrial hearing Thursday afternoon at the Nassau County Courthouse for Kessler, who is charged in connection with the disappearance and presumed death of Joleen Cummings, a 34-year-old mother of three.
Kessler's lawyer said she got more than a dozen discs this week from the State Attorney’s Office that contain “information which will be relevant to a determination of competency” that the psychologist will want to review. The lawyer said it will take two to three weeks to transcribe and present the evidence to the psychologist, and more time thereafter for a final opinion to be rendered to the court.
Kessler was not in court Thursday, but during the hearing, it was revealed the 19 discs contain audio of Kessler's jailhouse phone calls. The News4Jax I-TEAM has not yet obtained them, but has new insight from an inside source about what Kessler has been heard saying on the jailhouse phones.
Mollie Cash, who is accused of shooting her girlfriend in an Amtrak parking lot last year, can be heard describing Kessler's behavior in previously released audio of an interview with the FBI and local investigators.
"She's on the phone nonstop. It's nonstop, nonstop. She sits on the phone during meals, which our phones get cut off during meals, and she just sits there and talks," Cash can be heard telling investigators.
Shortly after Cash's arrest, Kessler was moved in June near Cash's cell in the Duval County jail following a hunger strike at the Nassau County Jail
"She said she has 18 different people, that she is 18 different people. It was 14, now it's 18," Cash said.
Cash told investigators Kessler seems to think she's talking to her mother. She's unsure if those are actual or fake conversations, but Cash heard her talking about Cummings to her mother.
Cash: "She says that the person, that lady had her son and so she had to go and get her son."
Detective: "When she says that lady, do you know what lady she was talking about?
Cash: "The one that's missing in Nassau County."
Detective: "How do you know that?"
Cash: "Because she told us. She talks on the phone. She's not telling us, but she talks on the phone very loud and obnoxiously when the phones aren't even cut on."
Cash said Kessler is seen wearing a turban around the jail and was identifying herself as Jennifer Sybert, one of her many aliases.
Cash: "All she does is read her Bible ... She said they were poisoning her food and it's because she pissed off the wrong people and she didn't do nothing wrong and she is here because the state attorney said she deserved better treatment than that what Nassau County was giving her because she was letting them poison her food."
Detective: "The state attorney?"
Cash: "I'm a little off my rocker, I'm not that off my rocker."
Also during Thursday's hearing, there was a lot of back and forth between the judge and the attorneys. The judge wants to get a trial date soon. He said he knows they're not even close, but said they need something to work toward. He asked Kessler's attorney if she could prepare for trial in 30 days if Kessler was to be found competent. The attorney said more like 90 to 120 days, which the judge said was realistic.
Prosecutors argued Kessler is competent to stand trial. Last month, the I-TEAM obtained Kessler's phone records which show she was searching how to dissect a body before Kessler went missing.
Kessler's defense team suggested they would look at the men in Cummings' life as possible suspects in her disappearance.
The judge set the next court date for April 18 and Kessler is expected to be there.
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