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Sante Kimes Denies 1998 Slaying

She says the Granada Hills victim was her 'best friend' and that she didn't order his death.

June 22, 2004|Anna Gorman | Times Staff Writer

Convicted murderer Sante Kimes denied killing a Los Angeles businessman in 1998, testifying Monday that he was her "best friend."

"Other than my husband," she said, "I loved David Kazdin more than anyone in the world."

Kimes testified against her attorney's advice and spent much of three hours crying or yelling. She spoke directly to Kazdin's adult children, who were seated in the courtroom, about their father. She also accused a detective of planting evidence, called the prosecutor a monster and launched into several diatribes that prompted the judge to tell her to be quiet.

Defense attorney Ray Newman suggested that Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Kathleen Kennedy-Powell erase his client's testimony from the record. The judge said she didn't need Newman's suggestions.

The judge also told Deputy Dist. Atty. Eleanor Hunter not to make editorial comments, after Kimes said, "I'm not naive," and Hunter responded, "We know that."

Kimes, 71, is charged with killing Kazdin after he discovered that she had taken out an unauthorized $280,000 loan in his name. Her son, Kenneth Kimes, admitted shooting Kazdin in the back of the head and testified against his mother last week to avoid a possible death sentence.

He testified that his mother had a family motto: "no body, no crime."

Both mother and son, who have been the subjects of movies and books, were convicted in 2000 of murdering an elderly socialite in New York. Irene Silverman's body was never found.

Kazdin's body was found March 14, 1998, in a trash bin near Los Angeles International Airport. The Kimes were arrested four months later in New York.

Kimes told jurors that she had met Kazdin 30 years ago and that he was a dear friend.

"God bless him, wherever he is," she said. "I wish he were here to help me. I need help."

She testified that she had been to his Granada Hills home more than 200 times and that neither she nor her son had anything to do with his death. Instead, Kimes blamed the death on a former attorney who she said had helped her set up offshore bank accounts.

Kimes said prosecutors forced her son to testify by threatening him with the death penalty. She said he was a "wonderful boy" and a "hero," and pleaded with Hunter to leave him alone.

Kenneth Kimes, 29, testified last week that he was following his mother's orders when he shot Kazdin, put his body into trash bags and dumped it into a trash bin.

On Monday, Sante Kimes testified that she was trying to save her son.

"You broke him, but you are not going to break me," she said to Hunter.

The prosecutor also asked Sante Kimes about Silverman's murder in New York. She answered that she was wrongfully convicted and said Silverman was also a close friend.

If convicted, both Sante and Kenneth Kimes face sentences of life in prison without parole.

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