Release of Facebook posts halt hearing in hairstylist's murder

Defense attorneys believe they're vital to Kimberly Kessler's case

By Elizabeth Campbell - Reporter

NASSAU COUNTY, Fla. - A court hearing Thursday for the woman charged with murder in the death of a Nassau County mother and hair stylist was postponed after her attorneys released new materials they feel could affect their client's case.

It's been seven months since deputies say Joleen Cummings was last seen by Kessler. Her body has not been found.

On Wednesday night, attorneys for Kimberly Kessler released thousands of pages of social media posts. The posts come from a closed Facebook group known as Kimberly Kessler Missing Pieces Sleuth Coup, which includes about 2,100 members who are discussing Kessler and the case. 

Her attorneys feel it shows the jury pool could be tainted. The move comes after the attorneys filed a motion objecting to the release of discovery materials, saying that evidence could lead to biased potential jurors.

Jacksonville attorney Rhonda Peoples-Waters took a look at the Facebook posts. She said it doesn't help defense attorneys that out of the groups members, only 93 appear to live in Nassau County and could be potential jurors.

"A Facebook group has been created to just talk about this case, but that alone is not going to be sufficient enough," Peoples-Waters said. "The court has to balance the right of the public interest as well as the defendant's right to have a fair trial, so, in that circumstance, typically the courts will lean towards making sure that the public has the right to as much evidence and information that could possibly be allowed."

Peoples-Waters said the judge could deny or grant the motion. He could also allow only some of the evidence to be released. Peoples-Waters expects Kessler's attorneys to eventually ask for a change of venue.

Kessler is held in the Duval County jail, where she's been since June after a hunger strike at the Nassau County Jail. Her next hearing is slated for Jan. 3.

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