Department of Corrections and Community Supervision

New York State
Department of Correctional Services
Glenn S. Goord, Commissioner

Office of Public Information
[518] 457-8182

For immediate release:

Tuesday, October 10, 2000

Prison incident ends as hostage-taker subdued, victim freed

Correctional employees distracted an inmate just long enough at 6:41 p.m. today at Clinton Correctional Facility to separate him from a reporter he had taken hostage some four hours earlier. Staff wrestled the inmate hostage-taker to the floor and subdued him with body holds while other staff escorted his victim from the room.

A new hostage negotiator was brought into the situation at approximately 6 p.m. in hopes that he could distract the inmate long enough for the new negotiator and other staff to separate the inmate from his hostage. The ploy worked.

Inmate Kenneth Kimes was then placed in restraints and moved to the facility's disciplinary housing unit, where both criminal charges and Department disciplinary proceedings are now pending against him.

Maria Zone, a freelance reporter conducting the Kimes interview for Court TV, was taken hostage at 2:20 p.m. She suffered only minor injuries during the ordeal and was immediately checked out by prison medical staff before exiting the prison.

Kimes told negotiators that he took the hostage in hopes of forcing Governor George Pataki into denying a request from California Governor Gray Davis that his mother be extradited to California where both Kimes and his mother face the death penalty for "murder, with special circumstances." If either Kimes or his mother are extradited to California and receive the death penalty, extradition laws would allow that sentence to take precedence over a life sentence in New York state.

Governor Pataki's extradition unit has already informed the district attorneys in Clinton and Westchester counties, the latter where Kimes' mother is incarcerated, of California's request. Once those counties schedule extradition hearings, Governor Pataki will forward California's warrants to them for action. If the courts concur with California's request, their custody will transfer to California authorities and they will travel here to arrest them.

The prison had been locked down at 6 p.m. as a precautionary measure. Other inmates at Clinton and other facilities in the region remained calm and orderly throughout the incident. A decision on returning Clinton to full normal operations will be made Wednesday morning by Commissioner Glenn S. Goord.

The Court TV personnel arrived at Clinton at approximately 10 a.m. and began their interview at 10:40 a.m. They were seated across a table from the inmate. At approximately 2:15 p.m., Kimes rose and went across the visiting room to use a bathroom while the reporter headed across the visiting room in the other direction to purchase bottled water from a vending machine. When they met coming back to the table, Kimes pushed a pen against her neck, wrapped his other arm around her shoulder and pulled them both to the floor, pulling her across the room toward a corner with him.

Kimes initially held a pen to her throat. He immediately ordered security personnel plus camera operator Drew Harty and sound operator Jeremy Drowne to "back off." They were the only ones in the visiting room at the time.

The Officer observing the interview pushed an alarm and called for help, with several Officers responding immediately. Security staff, immediately joined by trained negotiators from the Department's Crisis Intervention Unit, began speaking with Kimes and monitoring his movements. The inmate later removed the weapon from the reporter's throat. At the end of the incident, both Kimes and the reporter were seated in chairs facing negotiators.

Kimes, 25, was received into the prison system on July 11, 2000, for murder second, burglary first, robbery first and criminal possession of a weapon second. He is eligible for parole in 2123. His co-defendant and mother, Sante, 66, is at the Bedford Hills Correctional Facility in Westchester County serving a sentence of 120 2/3 years to life for the same charges. She is eligible for parole in 2119.

Reporter Zone had visited Kimes on September 25 for a pre-interview in the visiting room without audio or video equipment. She conducted a similar pre-interview on September 17 with Mrs. Kimes at Bedford Hills. Both those visits were uneventful.

Both were convicted of conspiring to steal the house and property of an 82-year-old woman by means of forgery, fraud and deception. In the process, they murdered her.

Clinton, opened in 1845, houses 2,959 inmates. Its population today is 2,865. It is located in Dannemora, 185 miles north of Albany.

An interview scheduled for Thursday, between Kimes and a production company working with the Arts & Entertainment network for its American Justice series, has been canceled.

Mug shots of both Kenneth and Sante Kimes are available from the DOCS web site.