Stephanie Crone-Overholts murder: Suspect Robert Kessler to be held without bond until trial, judge rules

Hillsborough County

TAMPA, Fla (WFLA) — The man accused of killing and dismembering a woman, then dumping her body in Tampa’s McKay Bay, will stay behind bars until his trial, a judge decided Wednesday.

Robert Kessler – the man charged with second-degree murder and abuse of a human body in the death of Stephanie Crone-Overholts of Erie, Pennsylvania – did not appear in court Wednesday after waiving his presence in the pretrial detention hearing. It’s the second time this week he’s skipped a court appearance.

In a petition sent to a judge earlier this week, the state attorney’s office argued Kessler should not be released before standing trial.

“[Kessler] has committed a dangerous crime, and the facts and circumstances indicate a disregard for the safety of the community, and there are no conditions of release that will adequately protect the community,” State Attorney Warren wrote in a motion filed Monday.

The prosecutor also cited Kessler’s lengthy criminal history as a reason he should remain locked up.

A judge decided Wednesday afternoon to grant the state’s motion and keep Kessler behind bars. He will be held without bond until trial.

Kessler’s public defender had tried to get the judge to strike the state attorney’s office motion, arguing that he should not be held before trial.

“This is not a legally sufficient basis for the requested relief. Even if viewed in a light most favorable to the State, there are no alleged facts that suggest Mr. Kessler poses a threat of harm to the community,” the defense’s motion said.

Judge Catherin Catlin disagreed, granting the state’s request for pretrial detention.

“In this instance, the total depravity that is evidenced in this crime leads me to believe that there is a disregard for the safety of our community,” Judge Catlin said.

During the hearing, the prosecutor called on one witness, Tampa Police Homicide Detective Matthew Kirkpatrick. He told the court that one of the victim’s arms and her head have not been found.

Kessler was arrested last month in the death of Crone-Overholts, whose body parts were found in McKay Bay.

Police said a fisherman first discovered a leg belonging to the 47-year-old woman. Another leg was found the next day. Several days later, a cadaver dog led police to her upper torso and one of her arms.

Police said Crone-Overholds had met Kessler at a local McDonalds and lived with him for several weeks. Detectives said they found several areas that appeared to be splattered with blood around his home, and suspected blood inside his car, and that blood and DNA found on a mattress matched Crone-Overholts’.

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