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Judge sentences Joseph Zieler to death for 1990 Cape Coral double murder

Joseph Zieler
Joseph Zieler elbows attorney
Posted at 2:31 PM, Jun 26, 2023
and last updated 2023-08-17 12:20:51-04

LEE COUNTY, Fla. — Judge Robert Banning sentenced Joseph Zieler to death for the horrific murder and rape of 11-year-old Robin Cornell and her babysitter 32-year-old Lisa Story in Cape Coral in 1990.

Zieler was handed two death sentences for each victim.

The loved ones of both victims expressed how their lives were never the same after the horrific murders.

Jan Cornell, Robin's mother told Fox 4's Briana Brownlee that despite so many years of grief and darkness she knew she had to fight for justice for her daughter and friend.

“In their case, I needed to be their voice, I wasn’t going to let either one of them down,” Cornell said.

Broken is how Cornell said she felt for the past 33 years after walking into her Cape Coral home and finding her daughter and friend brutally raped and murdered.

"I wasn’t there that night to save them or at least help one get away and for 33 years I wasn’t going to let them down," Cornell said.

Years of pain and suffering for the victim's loved ones, years of countless hours from Cape Coral Police and the State Attorney's office piecing together what happened that early morning back in the 90s.

Now, on Monday, 33 years later Joseph Zieler the man behind this horrific double murder met his fate.

"The court concludes that under the laws of the State of Florida, the defendant has forfeited his right to live," said Judge Robert Branning as he announced the sentencing.

“I moved here in 1990 and this crime had just happened, I was a young prosecutor then and it stuck with me all of that time," said State Attorney Amira Fox. To see 33 years later this justice served I felt chills in the courtroom."

State Attorney Fox felt close to this case because she worked on it for decades.

Ziler's attorney Kevin Shirley said Zieler will appeal.

WATCH NOW | Joseph Zieler Death Penalty

Judge sentences Joseph Zieler to death for 1990 Cape Coral double murder

In May, a jury recommended the death penalty for Zieler.

Now just hours before his sentencing, Zieler was back in court on Monday morning in hopes of getting a re-trial and his conviction overturned.

But, before the judge could make his ruling in that case chaos erupted in a Lee County Courtroom when Zieler elbowed his attorney in the face.

Seconds after Zieler entered the courtroom Zieler motioned to speak with his attorney, Kevin Shirley.

Shirley walked over to Zieler and leaned into him and Zieler threw an elbow to Shirley's face.

Joseph Zieler elbows attorney

Immediately after the incident deputies tackled Zieler straight to the ground.

Fox 4 spoke with Shirley after the incident occurred.

"It seemed like he didn't want our conversation to be picked up by the microphones. So he waved me down and I bent over, and he struck me. The Bailiffs were extremely quick to respond and eliminated any future threat."

The judge denied Zieler's motion for a new trial and decided not to overturn Zieler's conviction.

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