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Sante and Kenneth Kimes Trial: 2000 - Irene Silverman, Arrest Of Sante And Kenneth Kimes, The Trial, Conviction, Sentencing, And Aftermath

criminal accused death months

Defendants: Sante and Kenneth Kimes
Crimes Charged: Murder, criminal possession of a weapon, conspiracy, forgery, robbery, burglary, grand larceny, eavesdropping
Chief Defense Lawyers: Sante Kimes: Michael Hardy; Kenneth Kimes: Mel Sachs
Chief Prosecutors: Owen Heimer, Connie Fernandez
Judge: Rena Uviller
Place: New York, New York
Date of Trial: February 15-May 18, 2000
Verdicts: Sante Kimes: guilty on 58 criminal counts; Kenneth Kimes: guilty on 60 criminal counts
Sentences: Sante Kimes: 120 years, 8 months; Kenneth Kimes: 125 years, 4 months

SIGNIFICANCE: No trace of the body of the murder victim, Irene Silverman, was ever found, and neither accused ever confessed. The decision represents perhaps the heaviest sentence handed down in the United States in a case built entirely on circumstantial evidence. Sante Kimes and her son, Kenneth, were accused of a long string of crimes in connection with the disappearance of Irene Silverman, and evidence mounted that they had been involved in a bizarre series of frauds, schemes, and earlier possible murders in other jurisdictions. Their strange case became the subject of at least three books and two television documentaries.

Sante Kimes was married to wealthy motel owner and land developer Kenneth Kimes, Sr. During her marriage, she became involved in several legal turmoils. In 1986, she was accused and then convicted of 14 counts of enslaving a number of maids, holding them against their will, physically abusing them, and not paying them. She was sentenced to 14 five-year terms to run concurrently in that case. In the same year she was convicted of stealing a fur coat from another customer in a Washington, D.C., restaurant. She was also suspected of arranging the arson of a home in Hawaii in order to collect the insurance.

On the death of her husband, she concealed the fact of his death from his family, apparently out of concern that they would contest her claim to the estate. However, Kenneth Kimes had sequestered much of his fortune in an offshore account in the Cayman Islands, and she was unable to access those funds. She was suspected in the disappearance of a banker in the Bahamas, in the death of a hired man in Los Angeles, and a warrant was issued for writing a bad check for $14,793.50 to purchase an automobile in Utah.

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