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Accused double-murderer sends 'offer letter' to judge

Posted at 7:37 AM, Jun 17, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-17 19:57:09-04

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Joseph Zieler, the man accused of the 1990 slayings of 11-year-old Robin Cornell and babysitter Lisa Story, sent a series of letters to Judge Robert Branning ahead of his Friday motions hearing.

Zieler faces five charges including first-degree homicide, sexual battery, and burglary. Cornell and Story were found suffocated and sexually assaulted.

In a handwritten letter filed June 8, Zieler provides a "fair offer to avoid bringing this to jury trial."

Zieler asks for a full DNA retesting of evidence collected in the case, "and [if] any of them contain either victims' epithilial (sic) profile, I will waive a jury trial and allow you to personally impose sentancing (sic)," he writes.

PDF: Read the full letter

The three-page letter goes on to contend "very light blond hair" mentioned by investigators during the initial stages of the case would not Zieler, a brown-haired man.

"I am innocent - there is no way to contest a non-matching genotype, fingerprints, hair color -and- a mix of either adult female [redacted] mixed with my DNA," Zieler writes.

Court records show Zieler has filed more than a dozen formal motions in federal court since September.

A jury trial is tentatively scheduled for July 28. Zieler is being held without bond.