Attorney: Sydenham "Very Emotionally Distraught" as Murder Case Continues

Diane Sydenham appeared in a Contra Costa County courtroom Thursday afternoon. Click the "Keep me posted" button below this story for an instant email update when we publish future stories on the case.

The 56-year-old Albany woman appeared in court Thursday afternoon. 

Contra Costa County prosecutor Dominique Yancey requested that the judge increase Diane Sydenham's bail from $1 million to $2 million. Judge Patrica M. Scanlon granted the request.

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Sydenham was arrested earlier this month in connection with the murder of 81-year-old James Durkin. Authorities said Durkin was killed with a steak knife to the heart

Defense attorneys Robert and Anne Beles, of Oakland, appeared on behalf of Sydenham. The father-and-daughter team have been retained as private counsel for Sydenham.

Anne Beles asked the judge to put the case over until Sept. 20, citing the receipt, from the prosecution, of extensive discovery documents and recorded statements that are in need of review. 

Judge Scanlon granted the request. 

Robert Beles said after the short status hearing, just before 2 p.m. Thursday, that he expects Sydenham to enter a plea at the September hearing. 

He said he and his daughter on Thursday received "hundreds of pages of interviews" done by police, and that they would need time to review them. 

Beles described Sydenham as "very emotionally distraught, as would be understandable when you're in court charged with a murder case." 

He said that the prosecution's move to increase the bail to $2 million was not uncommon in this type of case, and that Sydenham has no plans at this time to attempt to make bail and be released. 

"She's planning to stay in custody," he said.

Beles said, at this time, he could not comment further on the exact nature of the relationship between Sydenham and Durkin. 

Senior deputy district attorney Harold Jewett described the two as friends at a hearing earlier this month, and Beles said, on Aug. 16, the connection between them "was not a patient-doctor relationship."

"The facts will unfold more as the case goes on," he said Thursday.

One woman describing herself as a supporter of Sydenham attended the Thursday afternoon hearing, but she declined to comment. 

Click the "Keep me posted" button below this story for an instant update when we write about this case.

If there's something in this article you think , 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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Deborah Longmire August 31, 2012 at 06:01 PM
Diane never kept it a secret that she was sexually involved with him. Recently she was angry with him as she stated that he was ruining her reputation by talking about her around town. Thought they had resolved their issues as someone had seen them having coffee together just a couple of weeks before he was murdered.
Cindy Walters September 02, 2012 at 02:59 PM
I am unable to see a keep me posted button to click. I'd like to keep up with this story.
Alex Gronke September 02, 2012 at 03:25 PM
Hi Cindy, It's the button just above where it says "2 Comments" at the very bottom of the post.


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