As soon as Kessler was brought into the courtroom in a wheelchair, she immediately began shouting, “Jordan Beard is Joleen Cummings’ cousin, Jordan Beard is Joleen Cummings’ cousin” — an accusation about one of her defense attorneys that has been proven untrue. The judge ruled to move Kessler to a different room to continue the hearing about evidence in the murder case.
During the hearing, the lead investigator and another detective in the case took the stand and were questioned about evidence the defense feels should be kept out of the trial.
Prosecutors called lead detective Wayne Herrington, with the Nassau County Sheriff’s Office, to the stand. He told prosecutors that the day after Cummings, a mother of three, was reported missing by her mother on May 14, 2018, deputies discovered blood, a broken salon drawer and evidence that blood was cleaned up inside the Tangles Hair Salon in Yulee where Cummings and Kessler both worked.
“There were patterns that someone tried to clean up blood,” Herrington said.
The detective also acknowledged responding to a rest stop area with guns drawn where Kessler was found days after Cummings disappeared.
Detectives believer Kessler, who has had 17 aliases, was the last person to see Cummings alive. Surveillance video also shows Kessler leaving Cummings’ car in a Home Depot parking lot.
The defense argues that Kessler was put in custody and wasn’t read her rights, and so anything she said that day should not be used against her.
Detective David Douglas, with the Sheriff’s Office, also took the stand. He explained he did not tell Kessler that she was suspected of a criminal offense at the rest stop. He said deputies were there to speak with her about a missing persons case.
“At the point and time, I was standing outside the vehicle, I asked, ‘What if she wants to leave?’ They say, ‘She gets to leave,’” Douglas said.
The defense also claims a search warrant at a storage unit was unlawful, claiming it violated privacy.
No rulings were made Wednesday. The judge set another hearing for Oct. 14. He said the state and defense will get together to discuss a questionnaire.
Kessler is charged with murder in Cummings’ disappearance. Cummings’ body has never been found.
Kessler’s trial in the case was pushed back until Dec. 6 after both the prosecution and defense agreed more time was needed to litigate the numerous defense motions to have evidence suppressed. During a virtual hearing in July, the judge tried twice to allow Kessler to take part in a virtual hearing. She was in a wheelchair in restraints and said 10 times, “Jordan Beard is Joleen’s cousin,” with her head tilted up and her eyes closed. The judge had her removed.