Inmates return to normal day following release of reporter

Associated Press

DANNEMORA, N.Y. — Convicted killer Kenneth Kimes was a popular and willing media subject, having spoken with CNN’s Larry King and Details magazine.

But Tuesday’s interview with Court TV likely marked his final appearance before cameras, the corrections department said.

Kimes held a free-lance producer for Court TV hostage for four hours on Tuesday, demanding that his co-defendant, his mother Sante, not be extradited to California on murder charges. Both could face the death penalty.

In an interview Wednesday on NBC’s "Today" show, producer Maria Zone said she was "a little sore from being grabbed" but was otherwise unharmed.

The incident began about 2:20 p.m. when Kimes asked Zone to get him some candy bars. When she returned, Kimes grabbed her, backed her into a corner, put a pen under her chin and said, "This is a hostage situation."

As they crouched in a corner, Zone said she thought, "This is a man who’s been convicted of murder … He may use (the pen) as a lethal weapon."

About four hours into the ordeal, a prison official arrived to negotiate with Kimes, Zone said. By then, Kimes and Zone were sitting in chairs, their arms linked.

"I thought, ‘If I get a dislocated shoulder out of this, that’s OK,’ " Zone said.

She said the prison official managed to distract Kimes and guards jumped in and wrestled him to the floor.

Kimes is serving a 125-year sentence for murdering Irene Silverman in a scheme to steal her $7 million Manhattan home. His mother was sentenced in June to more than 120 years for the same crime.

Silverman’s body was never found. Their lawyers said they were planning appeals.

Extradition hearings are being scheduled for both Kimeses, said James Flateau, Department of Correctional Services spokesman.

The two were also indicted in the 1998 murder of a business associate.

Kenneth Kimes spent Tuesday night in an observation cell under the constant eye of correctional officers, Flateau said. Kimes will later be moved to disciplinary housing where he will be confined 23 hours a day and allowed out for one hour of exercise daily.

As a precaution, Sante Kimes also was moved into a special housing unit from the general prison population, Flateau said.

On Tuesday, Details released letters in which Kimes begged for interviews to demonstrate his innocence. The Arts and Entertainment channel also had an interview scheduled for Thursday, which has now been canceled.

Zone had interviewed Kimes several weeks ago, conducted the talk without problem and returned Tuesday to interview him on camera for "Crime Stories," a documentary-style program. Her previous work included reporting on Thomas Capano, convicted of murder in Delaware.

Fredericka Brookfield, a Court TV spokeswoman, said the network has no video footage of the standoff, and corrections officials said there are no surveillance cameras in the room where the hostage situation happened.

Matthew Weissmann, one of Kimes’ lawyers, said Tuesday that his client seemed more content than he had been at Rikers Island, and the hostage-taking shocked him.

"In the two and a half years that I’ve known Kenny, he’s never shown that he would do anything like this, despite the charges he was convicted on. He must’ve totally snapped or something," Weissmann said.

Zone said the incident won’t keep her from doing more prison interviews.

"Just because you have a bad day at work doesn’t mean you quit your job," she said.

Copyright ©2000 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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