Sante Kimes' legal strategy may have played out just as some predicted. While she was representing herself, the case was mired in delays, prompting prosecutor Eleanor Hunter to complain that it was stuck in "a time warp" and to describe Sante as "relentless." But with the trial looming, Sante recently changed course by retaining defense attorney Charles Maple of Altadena.
"My belief is she's not going to trial without an attorney," Hunter predicted before the judge imposed a gag order in the case. "She's using this [self-representation] as a delay tactic."
The court file bulges with motions written out on legal paper in Sante's longhand. She battled the prosecution over discovery issues and tried to have co-defendant Kenny Kimes' lawyer, Deputy Public Defender Gina Laughney, removed from the case. In a recent development, she sued Laughney, accusing her son's counsel of breaching a "joint defense agreement."
Laughney claimed in court papers that Sante was trying to "control the representation of Mr. Kimes and thereby control him," and Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Kathleen Kennedy-Powell told Sante flatly during a hearing, "There is no joint defense. There was no joint defense . . . It was never a joint defense."
Before the gag order took effect last summer, Sante described herself in a letter from jail as a "mother fighting for the life of my young, innocent son" and claimed the two of them were "innocent and being framed in one of the worst nightmares of injustice in U.S. history."
The odds of her proving that don't seem good right now--though they may have been improved by her decision to retain counsel. "The stakes are really high, so maybe she's realizing that," says her older son, Kent Walker. "But even when she has an attorney, she plays attorney."