LAWFUEL – The Legal Newswire – R. Alexander Acosta, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Jonathan I. Solomon, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Miami Field Division, Rear Admiral David W. Kunkel, Commander 7th Coast Guard District, Jonathan Sall, Special Agent in Charge, Coast Guard Investigative Service, Julie Torres, Special Agent in Charge, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and Robert Parker, Director, Miami-Dade Police Department, announced that a Miami grand jury today returned a nine (9) count Indictment charging defendants Kirby Logan Archer and Guillermo Alfonso Zarabozo with the September 22, 2007 murder in the first-degree in international waters of the captain of the Joe Cool fishing boat, his wife, and the boat’s two crew members, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 1111 and 2 (Counts 1- 4). The Indictment also charges the defendants with four counts of kidnapping, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 1201(a)(2) and (7) (Counts 5 -8); and one count of robbery, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 2111 and 7. The murder and kidnapping charges could result in the imposition of the death sentence.
Both defendants appeared in federal court today on the Indictment and were arraigned before U.S. Magistrate Judge Ted Bandstra. At today’s hearing, the defendants pled not guilty to the charges. The case is assigned to U.S. District Judge Paul C. Huck, who will set the next court date.
According to court records, defendants Kirby Logan Archer and Guillermo Alfonso Zarabozo chartered the fishing vessel, the Joe Cool, at the Miami Beach Marina for a trip to Bimini on September 22, 2007. The defendants paid $4,000 in cash for this voyage and claimed to be going to Bimini to meet their girlfriends on a yacht at the Big Game Resort and Yacht Club in Bimini. The boat left for Bimini on September 22, with the captain, his wife, and two crewmen.
On September 23, 2007, the United States Coast Guard found the Joe Cool adrift approximately 30 nautical miles away from Cuba. On September 24, 2007, the Coast Guard found the defendants in a life raft, but could not find the bodies of the Captain, his wife, or the two crewmen. When rescued by the U.S. Coast Guard, the defendants stated that they had been on their way to meet their girlfriends on a yacht docked in Bimini when the Joe Cool had been overtaken by three pirate-hijackers. The defendants claimed that these three pirate-hijackers killed the crew, caused their bodies to be thrown overboard, commandeered the vessel and steered it south for several hours. According to the defendants, when the Joe Cool ran out of fuel, a third boat eventually picked up the pirate-hijackers, who then allegedly left the defendants alone and unharmed aboard the Joe Cool.
United States Attorney Acosta stated, “The forensic, historical, and circumstantial evidence of premeditated murder compels us to bring this prosecution. Although no legal proceeding can bring restore the lives that were tragically lost at sea, we hope that this prosecution brings some level of comfort to the families of those innocent victims.”
FBI Special Agent in Charge Jonathan I. Solomon added, “This was a tragic event and our thoughts and prayers are with the families of the lost crew. We hope they can take solace in the charges being filed against the defendants today, and are confident that justice will be served.”
Mr. Acosta commended the investigative efforts of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Coast Guard, Coast Guard Investigative Service, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and the Miami Dade Police Department. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Karen Gilbert, Michael Gilfarb and Jeffrey E. Tsai from the Special Prosecutions Section.
A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida at www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls