LOS ANGELES – A killer convicted in a high-profile New York case pointed the finger of guilt at his mother in court, saying she gave the orders for him to kill a Los Angeles businessman.
Kenneth Kimes (search) said he was so pleased at having carried out her plan that he presented Sante Kimes (search) with flowers and a kiss when he delivered the news that David Kazdin (search) was dead.
"In my mindset, I thought I had completed a great duty for my mom. It was a significant completion and I wanted to celebrate ... I got my mom some flowers," Kimes said of the 1998 murder.
Kimes, 29, pleaded guilty last November to Kazdin's murder in return for a life sentence without the possibility of parole. He agreed to turn state's evidence against his mother.
During a full day on the witness stand Thursday at his mother's trial, both Kenneth and Sante Kimes wept at times, with the mother sobbing loudly as her son turned on her.
The mother-and-son duo, who have been the subject of TV movies and books, have been kept separated since they were brought to Los Angeles four years ago to face charges of killing Kazdin.
Sante Kimes' attorney, Ray Newman, tried to imply in cross-examination that it was Kenneth, not his mother, who came up with the murder plan down to the detail of taking along plastic bags and dumping the body in a trash receptacle.
But Kimes shrugged off the suggestion that he acted alone, saying, "There had been a standard in my upbringing when committing a murder, put the body in a trash receptacle."
Deputy District Attorney Eleanor Hunter ended her presentation by showing jurors a series of letters Sante Kimes wrote to her son, outlining their potential alibis. She addressed him as, "My soulmate son," and in one letter, "My honey bunny, my gift, my precious son."
The letters gave him instructions on how to impress a jury, saying, "The jury has to like us and feel sorry for us."
Kenneth Kimes was cold and emotionless as he described the killing of the 63-year-old Kazdin, whose family sat in the courtroom listening to the testimony.
His testimony marked the first time he has admitted guilt and told his story.
He said Sante Kimes decided to kill Kazdin, an old friend, after he discovered that she had fraudulently taken out a $280,000 loan by forging his signature.
Hearing that Kazdin knew about the fraud, Kimes quoted his mother as saying: "We're going to have to kill him."
Asked by the prosecutor how he reacted, Kimes said: "I felt exhausted. I knew with her saying that, I knew the responsibility for that act was going to fall upon me."
Kimes said his mother planned the details of the killing and sent him to do the job, telling him: "Good luck."
Kimes said he went to Kazdin's house with another man who waited outside.
He said he and Kazdin spoke, then Kazdin got up and went to the kitchen sink where Kimes said he shot him in the back of the head at point blank range.
"And what happened then?" asked Deputy District Attorney Eleanor Hunter.
"He dropped," Kimes said flatly.
He told how he and his assistant, who had been recruited from a homeless shelter, dragged the body out of the house and into Kazdin's Jaguar, cleaned up the house and took off.
He said they ate lunch, went to the movies and bought new clothes to replace their blood-spattered outfits. When night fell, he said, they threw the body in a trash bin.
On the way home, he said he bought the flowers.
Later, he said, they moved out of their apartment, took off in a motor home and traveled across the country, finally arriving in New York. It was there that prosecutors say they killed socialite Irene Silverman (search), whose body was never found.
Sante Kimes was sentenced to 120 years in prison in the New York case and Kenneth Kimes received a 125-year sentence.