[Video] Florida Double Murderer Elbows Attorney in Face – Sentenced to Death
Joseph Zieler, 61, convicted in the 1990 rape and murders of Robin Cornell,11, and family friend Lisa Story, 32, in Cape Coral, appeared in court shackled at the wrists during a Spencer hearing (a hearing that allows defendants to provide additional evidence to change the penalties imposed by sentencing.)
Ziegler didn’t have much to say to Judge Branning, who would decide his fate, but then called over his defense attorney, Kevin Shirley. Ziegler motioned to Shirley that he wanted to whisper something to him. When Shirley bent down and got close, Ziegler delivered an elbow strike to Shirley’s face even though his arms were secured with a belly chain.
Court deputies went into action and took him to the ground after the battery and removed him from the courtroom.
In May, a jury recommended the death penalty for Ziegler. He took the stand in his defense trial and had a courtroom outburst that his lawyer said didn’t help his case.
Although the case dates back to 1990, In September 2016, police announced that Zieler had been arrested for the killings after police matched his DNA to traces found at the scene.
Florida law regarding the death penalty has recently changed, and that has been the focus of Zieler’s defense team.
A few weeks ago, Zieler’s other attorney Lee Hollander, filed a motion for a new trial. Hollander said the recommendation for death resulted from the new law requiring only eight out of 12 jurors to recommend the death penalty. He thinks the judge was wrong to apply the new law to a 33-year-old murder case.
During closing arguments, the prosecution said capital punishment is nothing compared to the beating, sexual assault, and suffocation deaths Robin and Lisa Story suffered at the hands of Zieler.
“He chose the time of day to enter that condominium; he chose to enter stealthily through the back sliding glass door; and then he attacked Lisa Story in her sleep, and he attacked Robin Cornell in her sleep,” the prosecutor said. “He could have taken the force off the pillows, let Robin Cornell breathe again, let Lisa Story breathe again, and maybe they would have survived.”
The state told the panel to think about both victims’ pain and suffering in their last moments.
“What was 11-year-old Robin thinking?” the prosecutor asked. “‘Where’s my mommy? Where is Lisa? Why is this man touching me? I can’t breathe.’”
After being dragged back in, Ziegler growled at the judge and those watching, exposing the word ‘killer’ written on his teeth.
Ziegler claimed he was innocent of the crimes stating.
‘I have nothing to do with this,’ he said. ‘I maintain my innocence.’
Judge Branning denied Zieler’s motion for a new trial and decided not to overturn his conviction.
Later Judge Branning ultimately decided he would follow the majority ruling of the jury and sentenced Ziegler to die for the double murders.
Wild video in Lee County court earlier this afternoon!
Convicted double murderer Joseph Zieler attacks his own attorney!
— Geoff Harris (@GeoffHarrisTV) June 26, 2023
— Matt Johnson (@MattJohnsonNEWS) June 26, 2023
Jan Cornell, Robin’s mother, stated, ‘Justice for Robin and justice for Lisa has happened,’ in a press conference with State Attorney Amira Fox and Cape Coral Police Chief Anthony Sizemore.
Fox said she hoped the verdict would bring peace to the victims’ families.
‘I hope the verdict and sentence recommendation have finally brought some sense of justice and closure to the families of Lisa Story and Robin Cornell,’ Fox said. ‘I want to thank them for their incredible patience and understanding as we all worked together to bring this case to closure over the years,’ she continued.
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