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Thursday, October 11, 2007

Charges filed in fishing boat "Joe Cool" murders

Reported as Two charged with murder of ghost boat crew:
U.S. Attorney R. Alexander Acosta said the execution-style killings, which had ''torn apart'' families and left two young children orphaned, warranted first-degree murder charges.

''They were on the seas, on a boat, and they were murdered in cold blood,'' he said.

Authorities described the suspects' tale of murderous pirates invading the boat as an implausible coverup riddled with holes. Acosta said the men -- Guillermo Zarabozo, who just turned 20, of Hialeah, and Kirby Archer, 35, of Arkansas -- gave different accounts about what the hijackers were wearing, how the killings were carried out and how they survived in the hours after the horrific Sept. 22 event.

And although they acknowledge there is no smoking gun, FBI agents found receipts in Zarabozo's apartment for a Glock 9mm magazine and four boxes of 9mm bullets purchased from Lou's Gun Shop and Police Supply in Hialeah.

Agents found four spent shell casings of the same size and brand -- Federal Cartridge, Hydra-Shok 9mm bullets -- on the vessel, Joe Cool. Prosecutors displayed an example of the bullet, standard law enforcement ammunition, at a news conference.

In a criminal complaint, prosecutors said there was enough circumstantial evidence to pin the killings on the two men, though they would not speculate on the motive.

Prosecutors filed the preliminary murder charges to buy time as the FBI continues to go over physical evidence -- including human blood discovered inside the vessel's cabin. If a federal grand jury returns a first-degree murder indictment, prosecutors could seek death penalties.
More here:
Kirby Archer and Guillermo Zarabozo were found alone in the life raft of the Joe Cool after it was reported missing in the Bahamas last month.

The bodies have not been found, but prosecutors say they have sufficient circumstantial and forensic evidence.

The two men say Cuban pirates boarded the Joe Cool and murdered its crew.

Mr Archer and Mr Zarabozo are set to appear before a federal court in Miami, Florida, on Thursday. They could get face a death sentence or life in prison if convicted.
Federal investigators said the two accused had paid $4,000 (£1,960) to charter the 47ft (14m) fishing boat on 22 September for a trip to Bimini in the Bahamas.

However, the Joe Cool unexpectedly turned towards Cuba part of the way through the journey and contact was lost with the crew.

The US Coast Guard found the boat adrift with no-one on board on 23 September near Anguilla Bay in the Bahamas, about 35 miles (55km) from Cuba.

The next day, Mr Archer and Zarabozo were found, with their luggage, in the Joe Cool's life raft about 12 miles north of the abandoned boat.
You know, pirates often leave victims, in this case alleged eyewitnesses, adrift with their luggage...

Earlier report here.

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