Kimberly Kessler will be sentenced on Thursday for the murder of Joleen Cummings
NASSAU COUNTY, Florida. –Kimberly Kessler faces a mandatory life sentence when she was convicted on Thursday of the murder of fellow hairdresser Joleen Cummings.
Kessler was convicted in December of first-degree murder in the death of the Nassau County mother of three, who disappeared in 2018.
Kessler was also convicted of theft because she was seen under surveillance dumping Cummings’ vehicle in a parking lot the night she was last seen alive.
The case faced years of legal delays, including Kessler being found unfit to stand trial before that ruling was overturned. Kessler also has a history of disrupting court with outbursts.
News4JAX also reported on its history of using fake names – 17 different names in total.
For Cummings’ mother, Ann Johnson, the verdict was the justice she had been praying for for three-and-a-half years after her 34-year-old daughter disappeared.
“We praise God, praise God, that we got the verdict and that gives us some sort of closure,” Johnson said shortly after the verdict was announced.
Cummings’ remains were never found and her mother pleaded with Kessler to reveal their whereabouts so she could rest her daughter.
” She is naughty. She is bad in the flesh. And as soon as she’s convicted, I want her out of our jail,” Nassau County Sheriff Bill Leeper said after the verdict. “It’s the state’s problem now.”
Leeper also said one person helped solve the case: Cummings.
“She left her blood and she left her DNA, and that’s what got her. That’s what helped us close this case,” he said.
The state presented evidence that included blood found at the Tangles barber shop, where Cummings and Kessler worked together; video footage of Kessler shopping for supplies and driving and parking Cummings’ car; and Kessler’s internet searches, which included “Joleen Cummings no body no crime”.
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Prosecutors also discussed the women not getting along and pointed to a tense interaction between the two women the day before Cummings disappeared. During closing arguments, prosecutors told the jury that evidence showed Kessler used scissors to kill Cummings before disposing of his body.
During the defense’s closing arguments, they again emphasized how out of context the internet searches are and how the purchase of zippers is not consequential to the case. The defense attorney also reported bruises on Kessler’s legs, arm and shoulders. The defense said all of this shows there was a violent conflict.
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