[Nameplate] Fair ~ 68°F  
High: 73°F ~ Low: 55°F
Thursday, May 5, 2016

Archer to change plea

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Kirby Archer of Strawberry is expected to plead guilty to the murder of four people on Florida waters, 10 months after the horrific incident.

Archer, 36, who was charged in Florida, has maintained his innocence regarding these charges but has been scheduled for a hearing where he could plead guilty in front of a federal judge. The hearing is scheduled for July 28.

The change in plea may save Archer from the death penalty according to prosecutors, but he will most likely be spending his entire life behind bars.

Initially, Archer and his 20-year-old supposed accomplice Guillermo Zarabozo told authorities that the boat, the "Joe Cool," they had chartered for $4,000 to travel to the Bahamas, had been taken over by Cuban pirates after it left Miami, but prosecutors and Zarabozo have since insisted on another story.

According to the prosecution and Zarabozo who has pled not guilty, the murders of the captain of the vessel, Jake Branam, 27, his wife, Kelley Branam, 30, and two crew members, Branam's half-brother, Scott Gamble, 35, and first mate, Samuel Kairy, 27, were Archer's doing when the four resisted the determent to Cuba.

Archer, a former Strawberry resident and Army National Guardsman, ended up in Miami after stealing $92,000 from the Wal-Mart in Batesville where he had worked. Once in Miami, he hid out for months until a friend, Zarabozo and himself chartered the boat, and shortly after the boat took off, tried to change the course of the ship from the Bahamas to Cuba.

The boat showed up empty near the Bahamas shortly after, and Archer and Zarabozo were found drifting on a raft without the victims.

The Branams left behind a then 2-year-old daughter and a 4-month-old son, who are now in the custody of Kelley Branams' sister.

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: