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Battle over bail for man accused of killing woman, dismembering her in McKay Bay

Posted at 7:19 PM, Nov 30, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-30 23:14:49-05

TAMPA, Fla — A "dangerous crime." That's what the state attorney's office says Robert Kessler is accused of, and in a 10-page plea to a judge, they say it's the reason he should stay in jail while he awaits trial.

Kessler is charged with second-degree murder and abuse of a dead body in connection to Stephanie Crone-Overholts' death.

ABC Action News spoke with Florida Gulf Coast University law professor Pamella Seay. She is not connected to this case but says the prosecution's document is compelling.

"The prosecutor goes on at length to show that it is more likely than not that this man is going to be convicted at trial," she said. "If I were to take a stab at it myself I'd say there will be no bail here."

According to that document, between Nov. 7-9, several witnesses say they saw a man who looked like Kessler dropping tote bins and emptying garbage bags into McKay Bay.

RELATED: Man charged with murder in connection to body parts found in McKay Bay, police say

And that court record goes on to say that cell phone towers put Kessler in that location around the time witnesses say they saw him.

Two days later, body parts belonging to Crone-Overholts began washing up in the Bay. According to police, her blood was also found in Kessler's home.

It's evidence that may seem damning, but Seay tells ABC Action News that Kessler's lawyer has a few possible defenses.

"They are absolutely certain he is the one who threw the body parts into the water. Whether or not he was actually the one to killing was not as clear," she said.

In a newly released document, Kessler's public defender says the state's argument is moot because Kessler hasn't been convicted of these crimes. They also argue that there is no proof he's a danger to the greater public and therefore should be released ahead of his trial under "reasonable conditions"

"This may have been a crime of passion, if so there is no other further danger to the community," Seay said.

Kessler's pre-trial detention hearing is set for Wednesday at 2 p.m.

Court documents released Tuesday afternoon show that Kessler has waived his right to appear at that hearing.

ABC Action News has reached out to the Public Defender's office for comment and we're waiting to hear back.