Joe Cool Criminal Trial Begins
Joe Cool Passengers to Stand Trial
Trial of one of the passengers, Guillermo Zarabozo, 20, of the Joe Cool charter boat is gearing up, according to the Associated Press. Zarabozo is on trial for charges of conspiracy, hijacking, first-degree murder, kidnapping and robbery. He has entered a plea of not guilty.
U.S. District Judge Paul Huck is the presiding judge, and the trial is expected to last two to three weeks. The U.S. Attorney’s Office has a team of three – Karen Gilbert, Michael Gilfarb and Jeffrey Tsai. The defense is a team of three from the Public Defender’s Office – Michael Caruso, Anthony Natale and Brian Stekloff.
Almost a year ago, in September 2007, The Joe Cool was chartered for a trip to the Bahamas by Zarabozo and Kirby Archer, 36. It was crewed by four – Captain Jake Branam and his wife, and Scott Gamble and Samuel Kairy. This past July, Archer pled guilty to conspiracy and first-degree murder.
Zarabozo and Archer hired the Joe Cool, and paid $4,000 to travel to the Bahamas. They said they were going to meet their girlfriends there. The vessel sailed out of Fort Lauderdale Beach for Bimini on September 22, 2007. The boat then turned south toward Cuba about nine nautical miles outside of Bimini. The Coast Guard found the boat – abandoned – about 30 miles from Cuba. Archer and Zarabozo were found in the boat’s life raft.
Zarabozo is accusing Archer of hijacking the boat and killing the crew. He is expected to testify in his own defense. He could face up to life in prison if convicted.
Prosecutors have their work cut out for them – no guns were ever found and the bodies of the crew members were never recovered. While there have been convictions on only circumstantial evidence, it is very difficult to obtain according to criminal defense attorneys across the board. No guns were found, but prosecutors think they will prove there was more than one gun on the boat. Four 9mm shell casings were found – they can be traced to an ammunition receipt that was found in Zarabozo’s Hialeah home.