EXCLUSIVE: Suspect faces judge 14 months after business partner is found murdered

Thomas Lee Kessinger
Thomas Lee Kessinger

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) – It's a case with many twists and turns and now more than a year after the murder of 51-year-old Diane Tansell, the man prosecutors believe did it faced a judge for the first time.

The reason for delay is two-fold:  first off, DNA evidence was slow to be process and second, the suspect was already behind bars on an unrelated case.

Thomas Kessinger is no stranger to a courtroom or a jail cell, after just finishing a term in Indiana. In late June of 2011, he returned to Kentucky; and on Wednesday, June 29, 2011, he appeared at the Downtown Judicial Center to answer to two separate court cases against him.

At 9:30 am, only WAVE 3 was there for stop number one.

"All rise," a bailiff says as the Judge enters the courtroom.

Then at 9:45 am, it's on to another courtroom.

"Thomas Lee Kessinger - is that you sir," a judge asks. "Yes," Kessinger responds.

Kessinger faced two judges for two different cases. The first - and most severe:  murder, abuse of a corpse, and tampering with physical evidence.

"Mr. Kessinger maintains his innocence of these charges and looks forward to having all the facts come out in court," his attorney Steve Schroering told WAVE 3 News.

But prosecutors say differently. They claim in April of 2010, Kessinger killed his business partner, 51-year-old Diane Tansell. He wouldn't be indicted in that case until February of 2011, some 10-months later.

That's when the prosecution's DNA evidence came back, they say linking Kessinger to the crime. Getting the ball rolling on that case will take some time.

"We're waiting to obtain the evidence from the Commonwealth," Schroering said.

That's expected in mid-August. Another Louisville court case stems from drug-related charges.  It was in the process of being resolved in court, until Kessinger took a drive across the river in April of 2010.

After a chain of events, he'd then be arrested for trying to escape police, possession of marijuana, and criminal recklessness.

"We've been waiting for him to be transported over from Indiana before we could start proceedings here," Schroering said.

14-months later, Kessinger's Indiana charges appear to be resolved, but he's just starting the process of resolving his legal issues in Bluegrass.

WAVE 3 News will continue to follow this developing story.

Copyright 2011 WAVE 3 News. All rights reserved.