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Butler Co. woman charged with murdering co-worker accuses public defender’s office of conspiring against her

NASSAU CO., Fla. — Kimberly Kessler, the Butler County woman accused of killing Joleen Cummings in Florida, appeared at a court hearing on Thursday and asked for a new attorney.

According to our sister station WJAX-TV in Jacksonville, that request was ultimately denied by the judge.

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Kessler said she believes a member of the public defender’s office is related to Cummings. Kessler and Cummings worked together at Tangles Hair Salon in Nassau County in May 2018 when Cummings disappeared.

“Joleen spoke of him at the salon,” Kessler said during the hearing.

Cummings' body has never been found, although investigators said they found several notable items at a Georgia landfill.

Since then, the state has released evidence in the case that suggests a struggle occurred at the salon and steps were taken to get rid of evidence.

Action News Jax reported that Kessler smiled during the hearing as she asked for a new attorney and accused the public defender’s office of conspiring against her.

“I believe that the entire public defender’s office was aware of this and still just kept going with what they went with,” Kessler said.

The claim is something the public defender’s office said is not true, despite Kessler’s arguments.

According to WJAX, Guards at the jail said Kessler weighed 196 pounds. when she was booked in 2018. At the Oct. 5 hearing, they said her weight had dropped as low as 74 pounds.

Attorneys say they are preparing for a few more hearings before the case can go before jurors. The judge is expecting to see Kessler again on Nov. 5 to set a jury selection date.