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Accused killer Joseph Zieler speaks out in court requesting a new attorney

Posted at 12:52 PM, Mar 02, 2023
and last updated 2023-03-03 18:41:06-05

FORT MYERS, Fla. — A day after the murder trial for Joseph Zieler was delayed because of legal issues, Zieler was back in court and vocal for his status hearing.

The court and the attorneys on the case aren't giving many details on what those legal issues are, but the State's Attorney's office as well as the Public Information Officer for the Lee County Court of Clerk confirmed that the trial was delayed.

"They could not proceed further this morning as a matter of law. The trial call will be on May 4th. That is all the information I have," stated Sara Miles from the court via email.

Zieler is on trial for the killing of 11-year-old Robin Cornell and her babysitter Lisa Story in Cape Coral in 1990—-and if convicted, he could face the death death penalty.

Robin Cornell and Lisa Story
Lisa Story and Robin Cornell

Friday's status hearing was to plan for the upcoming trial in May, but there was an outburst from Zieler.

When the discussion of the plea deal came up again, Zieler told the court he didn't have any knowledge of parole being offered in the plea deal. He went on to say even with the parole as an option he still isn't taking the plea because he is innocent.

The state responded that all that was needed on record is the fact that he is rejecting the plea.

Zieler went on to ask for the DNA to be retested and re-evaluated. He added he wasn't pleased with his counsel and would like a new attorney.

Judge Robert Branning noted Zieler's comments are on record but no further discussion was made.

Thursday FOX 4 learned that the trial was delayed for legal issues, which was three days after the jury selection began.

Monday was off to a slow start with only about 10 of the 75 jurors that were subpoenaed being questioned by the attorneys.

That day, before going through the pre-trial instructions, Judge Robert Branning asked Zieler if he was aware of the plea deal offered by the state. Despite the death penalty being on the table, Zieler rejected the plea offer.

Judge Robert Branning previously stated that the trial will be a long process but with the death penalty, it has to be taken seriously.

Originally the court was hoping for jury selection to wrap up the first week of March and opening statements to be given quickly following.

Now, a new pool of jurors will be subpoenaed and the court is calling in 250 jurors for four days for selection.

The trial call is on May 4th and the trial is expected to last about a month.