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Murderer with 'killer' written on teeth elbows lawyer in face as he's sentenced to death
Featured Image Credit: NBC2 News

Murderer with 'killer' written on teeth elbows lawyer in face as he's sentenced to death

Joseph Zieler tried to attack his lawyer in court

A convicted killer shocked a courtroom when he tried to attack his attorney after being sentenced to death, with the murderer managing to elbow him in the face.

If you're in the dock about to be sentenced to life in prison or, even worse, to death, it's probably a good idea to be on your best behaviour. Don't smile, don't speak unless spoken to, and look at the judge while they're speaking to you.

Attacking your lawyer is an interesting choice of legal strategy, but not one which is likely to help your case.

But murderer and rapist Joseph Zieler did just that. Not only that, but he did it at an appeal hearing where he was trying to overturn a recommendation of a death sentence against him.

Needless to say, things did not go well for the defendant.

Zieler failed to overturn a jury recommendation that he be executed, and was sentenced to death. He was convicted of killing Robin Cornell, 11, and her babysitter Lisa Story, 32, who he also raped and suffocated back in 1990.

A jury in Lee County Florida had recommended in May that Zieler be sentenced to death.

He appeared in court on Monday (26 June) in an attempt to appeal the decision, where he decided to try and attack his own lawyer, Kevin Shirley.

Joseph Zeiler.
Lee County Sheriff

Shirley had gone over to speak to his client after he ushered him over, but Zieler then threw an elbow at him, catching him on the jaw before being tackled by security.

The judge asked the attorney if he was okay, to which Shirley said: "I'm fine. I used to box, I've taken a lot better shots than that."

He later told Fox 4: "It seemed like he didn't want our conversation to be picked up by the microphones. So he waved me down and I bent over, and he struck me."

Zieler had also illustrated his true nature as he had the word 'killer' branded onto his teeth.

Nonetheless, he protested his innocence, saying: "I have nothing to do with this. I maintain my innocence."

Zieler was sentenced to death for murders of Robin Cornell (centre) and Lisa Story (left).
Cape Coral Police Dept.

He was arrested after his DNA was found at the scene of the crime. Investigators at the trial said: "The semen that was found on the bed sheet where Robin was sleeping matches the defendant to a frequency over 1 and 700 billion."

Robin's mother Jan Cornell was in the courtroom as a motion for a retrial was denied by the judge. Several hours later, he was sentenced to death.

Jan said afterwards: "Justice for Robin and justice for Lisa has happened."

Topics: News, US News, Crime