Psychologist argues Kimberly Kessler’s competency to stand murder trial

YULEE, Fla. — UPDATE 3/24: A judge has ruled that Kimberly Kessler is competent to stand trial, according to court documents.

ORIGINAL STORY:

A Nassau County court heard hours of testimony arguing Kimberly Kessler’s competency to stand trial. She is currently the only person charged with the murder of a Nassau County mother, Joleen Cummings.

“I hope that the judge’s ruling is that she’s found competent based on what we heard in court today,” Anne Johnson said. “We’re going to pray over this.”

Johnson sat feet away from her daughter’s accused killer. She said she hopes Kessler will receive justice in court.

It’s been nearly two years since Johnson has seen her daughter. Cummings disappeared on Mother’s Day weekend in May 2018. Deputies say she was supposed to drop off her kids withtheir father but she never showed.

Kessler was the last person to see her alive. They worked at the same hair salon in Nassau County. Investigators later questioned Kessler and said they found Cummings’ blood on Kessler’s boots and other evidence linked to Cummings’ death.

For months, the state attorney and Kessler’s defense attorney argued Kessler’s competency to stand trial. In July 2019, the psychologist said she is not mentally competent to stand trial. One 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 believes Kessler is competent to stand trial.

The judge said he would review all testimony and evidence before he makes a decision. He pushed the next court hearing to March 26.