The judge presiding over the Nassau County murder case against Kimberly Kessler, who is accused of killing her co-worker Joleen Cummings, is determined to proceed with a December trial, even as the defense files more motions challenging aspects of the state’s case.
At Thursday’s status conference, Kessler was wheeled in and immediately began chanting, as she has done in recent hearings, “Jordan Beard is Joleen’s cousin” — an accusation about one of her former defense attorneys that has been proven untrue. She yelled it out eleven times before she was wheeled back out of court.
The defense this week filed motions asking the state to give a detailed transcription of the hundreds of jail calls Kessler has made and asking that the state reveal what weapon was used to kill Cummings, whose body has never been found.
The prosecution added a new expert witness to its list, Dr. Heather Walsh-Haney, a forensic anthropologist from Florida Gulf Coast University. She testified for the prosecution in the murder trial of Michael Haim in Duval County. Kessler’s lawyers on Thursday objected to the late addition of Walsh-Haney to the prosecution witness list and have filed a motion to exclude her testimony. The reason cited in the motion: In 2019, Walsh-Haney performed an experiment and wrote a report on the subject of using an electric carving knife to dismember a body. The defense says the prosecution has not presented any physical evidence that Cummings was dismembered after her death and also says the prosecution waited too long to offer Walsh-Haney and her report as evidence.
Judge James Daniel set a motion hearing for Wednesday. He told both sides he was mostly satisfied with a proposed jury questionnaire, except for the 10th and final question. He said he expects as many as 300 jury summons to go out and said they will be screened “in waves.” The defense asked for the names of the potential jurors to be provided two to three weeks before the trial date, so it could do criminal background checks, but the judge made no promise on that timetable.
One of the defense lawyers raised the question: ”What about her appearance” (at trial)? Kessler has disrupted previous hearings. The judge gave no hint as to what he’s going to do on that matter.
Kessler’s trial is still set for Dec. 6.