Kenneth Kimes, notorious for joining his mother in killing a wealthy New York socialite for profit, pleaded guilty Tuesday to murdering a Los Angeles businessman who had discovered the pair had fraudulently obtained a loan in his name.
Kimes agreed to testify against his mother, Sante Kimes, 69, who is to be tried on murder charges in the case next year. He will avoid death row and is expected to be sentenced to life in prison without parole.
Handcuffed and wearing an orange jail jumpsuit, Kimes, 28, admitted he had killed David Kazdin on March 13, 1998, and disposed of Kazdin's body, which was found in a trash bin near Los Angeles International Airport. He also admitted having planned the killing with his mother for financial gain.
Kimes answered questions without showing any emotion. When Deputy Dist. Atty. Eleanor Hunter asked, "Did you in fact shoot and kill Mr. Kazdin?" he responded clearly, "Yes."
The confession was both satisfying and wrenching for Steve Kazdin, 39, the victim's son. "We knew the facts, but hearing him admit to them rehashes it all," he said. "He can rot in jail for the rest of his life."
Sante Kimes, in a wheelchair, appeared briefly in court after her son's hearing. Her attorney, Charles A. Maple, said outside court that the guilty plea had not been "an unexpected thing."
Hunter told Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Kathleen Kennedy-Powell that prosecutors had interviewed Kenneth Kimes in August. He agreed in writing to cooperate fully in the investigation into Kazdin's slaying and to testify truthfully against his mother.
Sante and Kenneth Kimes were indicted by a Los Angeles County grand jury in May 2002 in the killing of Kazdin, 63, who ran a photocopying business out of his Granada Hills home.
Details of the plot were described for grand jurors last year. According to transcripts of the testimony, David Kazdin met Kenneth Kimes Sr. in the 1970s. Kazdin agreed to let the elder Kenneth Kimes and Sante Kimes put Kazdin's name on a house they had purchased in Las Vegas. In 1997, Sante Kimes took out a $280,000 loan on the house without Kazdin's permission.
Kazdin discovered the unauthorized loan when a bank demanded repayment.
A mysterious fire later destroyed the house, and Sante Kimes tried unsuccessfully to collect insurance on the property, according to the transcripts.
Through others, Sante Kimes, by then widowed, and her son then pressured Kazdin to tell the bank that the loan had been authorized, but he never did, according to testimony before the grand jury.
After her father's death, Linda Kazdin directed investigators to the mother and son. A nationwide manhunt followed.
Detectives arrested the two in New York on the very day in July 1998 that socialite Irene Silverman disappeared.
A New York jury found the mother-son team guilty in May 2000 of killing Silverman, 82, to obtain her multimillion-dollar mansion. Her body has never been found.
Mother and son were each sentenced to more than 120 years in prison and then extradited to Los Angeles to face murder charges in the Kazdin case.
The Kimeses, who have been the subjects of movies and books, are also suspected of being involved in the disappearance of a bank official in the Cayman Islands.