A Yulee, Florida murder suspect who stripped naked and smeared feces on her jail cell walls a week ago has been cleared to stand trial.
Kimberly Kessler, 52, has been declared competent to stand trial in the presumed murder of Joleen Cummings, her co-worker in Fernandina Beach, according to Circuit Judge James Daniel’s Monday order.
The Florida Times-Union reported that the order comes a week after an emaciated Kessler appeared in an anti-suicide smock staring at the camera at her October 5 competency hearing.
During the hearing, she screamed “f— you” at the judge before walking away.
The judge indicated concern for the health of the 52-year-old charged in the 2018 presumed murder of missing co-worker Joleen Cummings, 34, of Yulee.The Florida Times-Union
During her custody, the Florida murder suspect has displayed erratic behavior, including stripping naked and smearing feces on the wall and embarking on a hunger strike that has put her health at risk.
According to NBC affiliate WTLV, the judge wrote that “as extreme as Defendant’s behavior has been, it does not automatically mean she is incompetent for the purpose of standing trial.”
He also called attention to the risks presented by Kessler embarking on dangerous hunger strikes and binge eating sessions.
“Without question, Defendant’s behavior has escalated to a level that is life-threatening and Defendant’s attorneys are rightfully concerned,” Daniel wrote, noting that Kessler “may be risking permanent damage to her vital organs.”
Kessler is charged with first-degree murder in the death of 34-year-old Joleen Cummings, a mother of three who ran a Yulee hair salon where Kessler worked.
Kessler is accused of murdering Cummings, who she worked for as an employee at the 34-year-old woman’s hair salon.
Cummings went missing in 2018 and her body has not been found, according to WJXT Jacksonville.
Since her arrest, the Florida woman has displayed a bevy of erratic and irrational behaviors that prosecutors argue is “volitional” or on purpose, including smearing her own feces, stripping naked and dropping her weight to a dangerous 74 lbs. from her hunger strikes, according to CBS affiliate WJAX.
Kessler’s attorneys have sought to have the woman involuntarily committed and force-fed at a mental hospital.
DeLuca said that when Kessler heard the hearing was approaching, she went on a binge eating spree, eating multiple peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.WJXT Jacksonville
Daniel agreed with prosecutors in his order, writing that Kessler’s behavior of stripping naked, hunger strikes, and smearing feces is “most likely volitional and not driven by serious mental illness.”
He also noted that he would only be able to commit a suspect to a mental hospital to be treated “for mental illness or intellectual disability,” not for a personality disorder, which he believes Kessler has.
The judge did express support for moving Kessler to a hospital for temporary treatment, due to her precarious health situation, writing “the court is not opposed to placing Defendant at the [Florida State Hospital] for stabilization while she awaits trial.”
Kessler is due back in court on Thursday for a hearing.
Guards at the jail said Kessler weighed 196 lbs. when she was booked in 2018.