JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The woman accused of killing her co-worker at a Yulee hair salon, Kimberly Kessler, appeared by video Thursday before the same judge who ruled Monday that she is competent to stand trial.
At Thursday’s hearing, Kessler asked for a new lawyer, claiming one of her court-appointed lawyers is related to the victim, Joleen Cummings -- a charge her lead lawyer said wasn’t true. Circuit Judge James Daniel denied the request and tentatively set her first-degree murder trial for May 2021.
At that point, Kessler started yelling and was removed from the viewing room in the jail.
Defense lawyer Teresa Sopp said she is preparing motions to suppress some of the evidence against Kessler and to request a change of venue.
Cummings' body was never found, but the Nassau County Sheriff’s Office and Florida Department of Law Enforcement found evidence that blood at the salon was cleaned up and blood was found on some of Kessler’s clothing. With the help of FBI, items of interest in the case were found in the Georgia landfill where Nassau County’s trash is taken, but they never provided details of what was found.
Kessler, who has been going on episodes of starvation and binge eating, was just 74 pounds when she appeared before Circuit Judge James Daniel last week, but the judge found Kessler’s behavior was not driven by mental illness but a personality disorder.
The judge said he’s not opposed to having Kessler await trial at Florida State Hospital, but added: “There is no legal mechanism that would allow this for a competent defendant diagnosed solely with a personality disorder.”
The judge also noted he lacks the authority under law to place Kessler in a facility to keep her from “starving herself and causing death or serious internal damage.”