Hours before receiving a death sentence for the murder of an 11-year-old girl and her babysitter, convicted murderer Joseph Zieler physically attacked his attorney in court, elbowing the man in the face.
Zieler was convicted on two counts of first-degree murder for killing 11-year-old Robin Cornell and her 32-year-old babysitter, Lisa Story, who was a friend of her mother, Jan Cornell. Cornell found her daughter and friend in their Cape Coral home in May 1990, and their deaths would remain unsolved until DNA taken from the crime scene was matched to Zieler in 2016.
Zieler had been arrested for another crime, and his DNA was entered into the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS), where it matched DNA samples from the murders.
Zieler appeared in court on Monday for a Spencer hearing, which provides defendants with the opportunity to make an appeal directly to the judge. During the hearing, the 61-year-old requested to speak with his lawyer, Kevin Shirley, and proceeded to elbow him after bending down to talk.
Zieler was quickly restrained by court bailiffs, who removed him from the courtroom. Shirley told the judge he was fine as he had “taken a lot better shots than that” during his time boxing.
According to NBC News, Zieler maintained his innocence after being brought back into the courtroom but was later given the death penalty. One of the 12 jurors who found Zieler guilty, Cheryl Cowan, described his presence as chilling and told reporters that he sealed his fate during his testimony in the trial.
Watch the video report below: