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Florida murder trial begins for Butler County native

A trial began Monday in Nassau County, Fla., for Butler County native Kimberly Kessler, who is accused of the first-degree murder of her coworker at a hair salon.

Kessler left Butler County in 2004 and has since lived in various states under as many as 18 aliases, according to police.

Kessler was reported missing from Butler in 2004 under “suspicious circumstances.”

She was arrested May 21, 2018, and booked into a Florida jail on a charge of grand theft auto as Jennifer Marie Sybert, 43, of Fernandina Beach, Fla., according to Nassau County court documents.

At that time, police were investigating the disappearance of Joleen Cummings, 34, an employee of Tangles Hair Salon in Fernandina Beach where Kessler also worked.

Cummings was last seen alive on May 12 and was reported missing on May 14. Police found Cummings' vehicle in a Home Depot parking lot on May 13, and when viewing surveillance footage from the store, they saw a “figure dressed in black” park and exit the vehicle on May 13, according to the affidavit.

A short time later, police said Sybert, also known as Kessler, is seen on surveillance entering a nearby shopping center and taking a taxi to Tangles, documents say.

Kessler was arrested at a rest stop in St. John's County, Fla. in September of 2018 on a charge of first-degree murder and denied ever using Cummings' vehicle, documents say.

Nassau County Sheriff Bill Leeper held a news conference in May 2018, where he said that his department has evidence indicating that Cummings is no longer alive.

A Nassau County court clerk confirmed Kessler's trial began Monday and is ongoing as of Wednesday.

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