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Federal court rejects accused Lee Co. killer's motions

Posted at 6:37 AM, Mar 09, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-09 18:43:14-05

CAPE CORAL, Fla. — The man accused of the sexual assault and murder of an 11-year-old girl and her babysitter in 1990 is transferring his legal case to Lee County.

A meeting regarding Joseph Zieler's trial is scheduled for July 28, 2022.

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

A federal judge denied three of those motions, including a request to represent himself.

Zieler was arrested by Cape Coral police in 2016, 26 years after the murders of 11-year-old Robin Cornell and babysitter Lisa Story.

He is charged with burglary, sexual battery and first-degree homicide.

According to Cape Coral Police Department on May 10th, 1990... Jan Cornell left for the evening, leaving her 11 year old daughter Robin in the care of her new roommate Lisa Story. When Jan returned home, she heard footsteps inside her apartment and upon entering found an ironing board open with pictures of her daughter laid out. Jan ran upstairs and saw Lisa’s lifeless body in her bed. Jan ran to her daughter Robin’s room and found her on the floor of her room deceased.

9-1-1 was called and Cape Coral Police responded - the investigation revealed Robin and Lisa were suffocated and sexually assaulted. Items in the apartment were also taken.

For years a killer was on the loose - police were searching for suspects... interviewing neighbors... trying to find clues. It wasn't until 26 years later on September 28, 2016 that Cape Coral Police Department announced an arrest in the 1990 homicide investigation. How this arrest all came about... DNA was taken from the scene in 1990. In the late 1990's when new DNA technology became available that evidence was retested and entered into a national database for unsolved violent crimes. Then on August 27, 2016, Joseph Zieler was arrested for aggravated battery against his son... under a 2009 law, anyone in Florida arrested for a felony had their DNA taken. The Lee County Jail took Zieler’s DNA and FDLE obtained a match to evidence from the murders of Robin Cornell and Lisa Story. Cape Coral Police Department Major Crimes Unit confirmed the DNA match.