The Florida murderer punches his lawyer as he is sentenced to death

A Florida double-murderer appeared with the word “killer” written on his own teeth in court Monday, where he proceeded to assault his own lawyer.

Joseph Zieler, 61, backed his lawyer, Kevin Shirley, over to speak to him after entering court in handcuffs for a pre-sentence hearing over the murders of an 11-year-old girl and her babysitter.

After learning in to speak to him, Zieler — who was eventually given the death penalty — suddenly caught Shirley in the face with a violent elbow shot, sending him spinning, courtroom video shows.

As onlookers gasped, three bailiffs immediately subdued tattooed Zieler, who was already in restraint, taking him down to the ground before removing him from the courtroom.

According to video shown by Fort Myers News-Press the attorney managed to somewhat keep his composure and return to his table.

Shirley then assured the judge he was OK and as a former boxer had sustained much heavier blows than the one Zieler had dished out.


Joseph Zieler
Joseph Zieler assaulted his lawyer in court.
Ricardo Rolon/USA TODAY NETWORK-FLORIDA / USA TODAY NETWORK

Joseph Zieler's teeth
Zieler reportedly has “killer” written on his teeth.
Ricardo Rolon/USA TODAY NETWORK-FLORIDA / USA TODAY NETWORK

Zieler, 61, of North Fort Myers carried out the 1990 attack by sneaking into a condominium and finding Robin Cornell, 11, and babysitter Lisa Story, 32, inside.

The child’s mother had gone to her boyfriend’s home for the night and returned to the Cape Coral apartment the following day to find her daughter and Story dead.

The victims had both been sexually assaulted and beaten before being suffocated, prosecutors said.

The case went cold for more than two decades before new DNA evidence tied Zieler to the crime in 2016. He was already in custody for assaulting his stepson when he was charged with the double-killing.


Joseph Zieler
The case went cold for more than two decades before new DNA evidence tied Zieler to the crime in 2016.
Ricardo Rolon/USA TODAY NETWORK-FLORIDA / USA TODAY NETWORK

Lisa Story
Victim Lisa Story, who was murdered while babysitting in 1990

Robin Cornell
Robin Cornell, who was also murdered by Joseph Zieler

A jury convicted him of the slayings in May and recommended the death penalty earlier this month.

Zieler denied any connection to the crime and tested on his own behalf at his initial trial.

Lee County Circuit Robert Branning formally sentenced Zieler to death Monday afternoon following the assault on his lawyer.

Jan Cornell, the other child’s mother, was in court Monday and witnessed the attack on the attorney.

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