Wednesday, May 10, 2006
Justices Appear Skeptical at Bid for New Trial for Sante Kimes, Convicted With Son of Two Murders
By a MetNews Staff Writer
Sante Kimes, whose murder trials on both coasts have been the subject of two television movies and lurid tabloid headlines, deserves a new trial in the California case because jurors were not fully instructed with regard to the effect of accomplice testimony, her attorney told this district’s Court of Appeal yesterday.
Kimes and her son, Kenny Kimes, drew prison sentences of more than 100 years each in New York in 2000 for murdering socialite Irene Silverman, whose body was never found, in an effort to fraudulently acquire her $7 million townhouse.
Kimes and her son were later convicted in California of the murder of Granada Hills businessman, David Kazdin, whose body was found in a dumpster near Los Angeles International Airport.
In a plea bargain to avoid the possibility of a death sentence, Kenny Kimes admitted killing Kazdin and testified against his mother.
Sante Kimes’ attorney, Seymour I. Amster, argued to the appellate panel that Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Kathleen Kennedy-Powell erred by not instructing the jury that several witnesses were accomplices and co-conspirators and thus potentially liable for the murder. Amster argued that when the trial judge instructed the jury on accomplices, she should have listed the names of these witnesses as being accomplices.
Amster argued that the witnesses were involved in Kimes’ conspiracy to commit bank fraud, and that Kazdin was murdered in furtherance of the conspiracy, specifically to cover it up.
The Div. Five panel appeared skeptical, questioning whether the witnesses had any knowledge of the murder, and assuming they did, how that would exonerate Kimes, pointing out that the trial court instructed the jury to consider the credibility of the witnesses, given their involvement in the fraud
Amster argued that the witnesses knew that documentary evidence was being destroyed to cover up the fraud, and that Kazdin’s testimony was potentially the most damaging evidence. The panel questioned whether that was a real leap, from destroying documents to destroying a person.
Deputy District Attorney Michael Johnsen argued that any error was harmless, as there was “abundant corroborative evidence” with regard to Kenny Kimes’ testimony. He also argued that any error was waived because Kimes’ trial attorney did not request an accomplice instruction listing the names of witnesses.
He also argued that there was no evidence that the witnesses would have seen a murder coming.
After the hearing, Amster said he doesn’t believe the jury properly evaluated the evidence. “They say, ‘A play made in hell doesn’t have angels as actors,’ but at the same time, we have to properly analyze the characters in the play,” he said.
Copyright 2006, Metropolitan News Company