In a shocking courtroom incident on Monday, a Florida double-murderer who appeared with the word “killer” written on his own teeth attacked his own lawyer as he was being sentenced to death for the killings of a child and a babysitter.
Joseph Zieler, 61, had the word “killer” written on his teeth when he entered the court for a pre-sentencing hearing. He called his lawyer over and suddenly struck him with a powerful elbow blow. Zieler was swiftly subdued by bailiffs and removed from the courtroom.
Despite the assault, the lawyer managed to compose himself and continue with the proceedings.
Zieler committed the double murder in 1990 when he entered a condominium and found 11-year-old Robin Cornell and babysitter Lisa Story. The victims were later discovered by Cornell’s mother, who had spent the night away. Both victims had been sexually assaulted, beaten, and suffocated, according to prosecutors.
The case remained unsolved for over two decades until new DNA evidence tied Zieler to the crime in 2016. He was already in custody for assaulting his stepson when he faced charges for the murders. Zieler denied any involvement in the crime and testified in his own defense during the trial. In May, a jury found him guilty and recommended the death penalty.
Following the assault on his lawyer, Zieler was formally sentenced to death by Judge Robert Branning. Jan Cornell, the mother of the slain child, witnessed the attack during the courtroom proceedings.
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