Murderer Flashes Chilling Word Written on Teeth at Death Sentence Before Striking His Own Lawyer


A Florida man convicted of a heinous 33-year-old double murder caused an uproar in court Monday, assaulting his defense attorney as well as baring his teeth at the judge in a snarl that reportedly revealed the word “killer” written on them.

Joseph Zieler was sentenced later that day to the death penalty for the 1990 killing of Robin Cornell, 11, and her babysitter, Lisa Story, 32, in Cape Coral, according to the Fort Myers News-Press.

Both victims had been beaten, sexually assaulted and suffocated, according to the New York Post, which reported on the word “killer” apparently being scrawled on Zieler’s teeth.

Zieler had been linked to the crime in 2016 after a DNA match came through when he was arrested on a charge of assaulting his stepson.

He had appeared in court Monday to appeal the jury’s death-penalty recommendation to Judge Robert Branning.

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In a video of the incident, the killer, whose hands were shackled, appeared to beckon his attorney, Kevin Shirley, over to him.

When the attorney bent forward to hear what he was saying, Zieler twisted his body and threw his right elbow into the attorney’s face.

WARNING: The following video contains violence that some viewers may find disturbing.

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Shirley told the judge he was OK, NBC News reported. “I used to box, I’ve taken a lot better shots than that one,” he said.

The attorney told NBC News he did not know why Zieler attacked him.

“He had to know how the bailiffs would react,” Shirley said in an email Tuesday, NBC News reported.

“We had a very good working relationship. It was probably his last effort to put on a public display and I was the only civilian that he was able to lure within arms reach.”

Zieler “was hoping to get a new trial, but a judge dismissed the motion and did not overturn the conviction,” WPTV-TV in West Palm Beach, Florida, reported.

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“The judge also denied Zieler’s motion for a new trial and decided not to overturn his conviction.”

The News-Press quoted Cape Coral Police Chief Anthony Sizemore as calling the sentence a “tremendous day for justice.”

Sizemore told the outlet there were 12 detectives and “a generation” of law enforcement officers who worked on the case over the decades.

“It consumed their career, it consumed a good part of their personal life and even into their retirement life,” he said.

In spite of the words reportedly written on his teeth, Zieler maintained his innocence, the News-Press reported.

“I have nothing to do with this,” he said, according to the outlet. “I maintain my innocence.”

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Lorri Wickenhauser has worked at news organizations in California and Arizona. She joined The Western Journal in 2021.
Lorri Wickenhauser has worked at news organizations in California and Arizona. She joined The Western Journal in 2021.