Defense claims Kimberly Kessler is unfit to stand trial

Kessler, 50, is charged with murdering former co-worker Joleen Cummings

Kimberly Kessler and Joleen Cummings
Kimberly Kessler and Joleen Cummings

YULEE, Fla. – The defense for Kimberly Kessler, the woman charged with murdering her former co-worker Joleen Cummings, said a psychiatrist has found their client incompetent for trial.

But a prosecutor disputed that characterization of Kessler’s mental health, saying the state disagrees with the defense expert’s findings and plans to file a motion seeking a second opinion.

Kessler, 50, was not in court Thursday morning. Her next hearing date was pushed back to June 27.

Investigators suspect Kessler, who worked with Cummings at Tangles hair salon in Yulee, was the last person to see Cummings alive. The Nassau County mother of three was reported missing last May.

Kessler is charged with first-degree murder in Cummings’ death. A year later, the 37-year-old’s body has not been found, despite an extensive search at a Georgia landfill that turned up items of interest.

Following Cummings’ disappearance, her SUV was found parked outside a Home Depot. Kessler was arrested May 16 after investigators said they found footage showing her getting out of the vehicle.

Since then, the state has released reams of evidence in the case through the discovery process that suggest a struggle occurred at the salon and that steps were taken to dispose of that evidence.

About the Author: