wjxt logo

Defense asks judge to submit questionnaire to potential jurors in Kimberly Kessler trial

File photos of Kimberly Kessler, Joleen Cummings.

Defense lawyers have filed another flurry of motions in Nassau County court in the trial of Kimberly Kessler, the woman charged with first-degree murder in the May 2018 disappearance of her salon coworker, Joleen Cummings, whose body has never been located.

After the judge ruled a second time in June that Kessler is competent for prosecution, a December trial date was set. Ahead of the trial, defense lawyers have asked the judge to submit a questionnaire to potential jurors.

In the two-page motion, the defense cites media coverage of the case no less than six times, calling it “focused intensely,” “extensively,” “significant,” and “pervasive.” Defense lawyers also cite social media discussion of the case, including a “sleuth group” that’s posted and commented for years.

The defense says much of what has been reported will be inadmissible in court and is concerned about its influence on potential jurors. Among the questions proposed by the defense include:

  • Have you heard anything about the woman missing from Tangles Hair Salon?
  • Did you know Joleen Cummings?
  • Are you aware of the prosecution of Kimberly Kessler, aka Jennifer Sybert?
  • Have you read or heard any media coverage of the case?
  • Have you participated in any online forums about the case?
  • Have you formed an opinion about Kessler’s guilt or innocence?

The defense has also re-filed a series of motions to throw out virtually all the physical evidence in the case. Those motions will be taken up at a hearing on Sept. 22.