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Albany Woman Enters Not Guilty Plea in Kensington Murder Case

Diane Sydenham, the Albany woman accused of killing retired Kensington psychologist James Durkin, 81, with a steak knife to the heart, pleaded not guilty in court Thursday. She remains jailed on $2 million bail.

Diane Sydenham, the Albany woman accused of fatally stabbing 81-year-old Kensington resident James Durkin with a steak knife in his heart, entered a plea of not guilty in a brief court hearing Thursday aftertoon.

As Sydenham, 56, stood behind bars in a courtroom cell, the plea was entered by her attorney Robert Beles, who appeared with his daughter, Anne Beles, as co-counsel.

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Sydenham remains jailed on $2 million bail. The next court date is set for Oct. 25.

Sydenham is accused of killing Durkin, a retired psychologist, in his in-law unit in a home on the 600 block of Coventry Road in Kensington. His body was found with the knife stuck in his chest on Aug. 13.

Sydenham on Thursday waived her right to a speedy trial. After the hearing, Robert Beles said he's still waiting for more information, particular lab reports.

Beles declined to comment further on the circumstances of the case. At Sydenham's arraignment hearing on Aug. 16, he told reporters that the accused had "an emotionally troubled background."

Acquaintances said she was unemployed at the time of the crime. Beles said she is unmarried and does not have children.

Thursday's hearing was held before Contra Costa County Superior Court Judge Christopher Bowen at the Richmond branch of the court. Appearing for the prosecution was Deputy District Attorney Dominique Yancey.

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If there's something in this article you think should be corrected, or if something else is amiss, call editor Emilie Raguso at 510-459-8325 or email her at albany@patch.com.

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Ruth Cashmere May 20, 2014 at 08:52 PM
Although I agree with the Judges decision Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity. I wonder if Ms. Sydenham were a women of color if the same decision would have been held.

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