Nassau County, Fla. — Is Kimberly Kessler competent to stand trial?
The question has been a matter of debate since Kessler was arrested in the death of her 34-year-old co-worker Joleen Cummings.
Cummings’ body has never been found. Earlier this month, her mother released a statement: “When your child is murdered, grief is only the beginning. What a true statement. Not only for my family but especially for Joleen’s three children. The hardest part of grieving is waiting for justice. Waiting for Joleen’s remains to be found.”
Prosecutors are ready to move forward with a criminal trial but on Thursday a Nassau County judge said the question surrounding competency must be resolved once and for all if the case is to move forward.
Kessler has been evaluated by multiple psychologists since being arrested.
In July 2019, a psychologist told a judge Kessler was not mentally competent to stand trial. Another psychologist told the court Kessler has a delusional disorder. The state appealed and ordered another mental health evaluation.
Licensed psychologist, Dr. Graham Danzer, with the Florida State Hospital, administered several tests on Kessler at the facility. Based on his findings, Danzer told the court he believed Kessler was competent to stand trial.
Kessler was seen yelling and cursing during a competency hearing in October 2020, but despite her public outbursts and starvation episodes, a judge declared her competent to stand trial.
Guards at the Nassau County jail reported that Kessler weighed 196 pounds when she was first arrested. By the fall of 2020, they said her weight had dropped to just 74 pounds.
In April 2021, Kessler was charged with battery against two law enforcement officers for attacking them with feces from her jail cell.
Kessler has used 18 different aliases and lived in 33 cities in 14 states since 1996, according to the Nassau County Sheriff Bill Leeper.
“As we continue to gather more and more evidence and facts, we have learned that this case is very unusual, and one that I’m not sure we have ever seen in Nassau County,” Sheriff Leeper said.
Cummings was reported missing on May 14 2018 after Cummings was supposed to meet her ex-husband, Jason Cummings, at a Winn-Dixie in Hilliard to pick up her three kids -- but she never showed up.
The next hearing in Kessler’s competency saga has been scheduled for June 30 at 9 a.m.
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