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Friday, Apr. 29, 2016

Jury still out in Archer trial

Friday, October 3, 2008

Was Gueillermo Zarabozo Kirby Archer's accomplice in the murder of four innocent people in September 2007? That's the question left up to the jurors.

Archer is an Arkansas man who fled after stealing $92,000 in January 2007, from the Batesville Wal-Mart where he was employed as a night manager.

The next time anyone heard of Archer was September 2007, when he was arrested for the murder of four victims who were crew members of the Joe Cool. Joe Cool was a fishing vessel Archer and Zarabozo had chartered to take them to Bimini.

Jake Branam, 27, his wife Kelley, 30, Scott Gamble, 35, and Samuel Kaily, 27, set out on Sept. 22, 2007, thinking it was just a regular charter but they never returned.

In his confession, Archer said he and Zarabozo hijacked the boat, shot and killed all four crew members and then threw them to sea. Archer is now awaiting sentencing.

The trial for Zarabozo began Sept. 15. The defense tried to paint a sinister picture of Archer during the trial, saying he led Zarabozo to believe they were going to Cuba for a security job he had obtained. Zarabozo admitted to bringing a 9mm Glock handgun on board with him but claimed Archer used it to hijack the boat and kill four innocent people.

According to a south Florida newspaper, prosecutors made their closing statements Sept. 23. After the closing arguments were made, the jury began their deliberations.

"One minute and 18 seconds is all it took," Assistant U.S. Attorney Karen Gilbert told the jurors. Gilbert was trying to help the jurors picture, how quickly the boat was taken over and its crew killed and thrown to sea.

Gilbert's reason for doing so was to prove to the jury the two men, Archer and Zarabozo, had to be working together for the hijacking to have gone down so quickly and smoothly. "The only way it would be that fast is if there was in place a conspiracy, an agreement to do this," Gilbert said.

The prosecution was able to prove how quickly the events took place by the boat's global positioning system (GPS) which indicated a brief time that passed between the stop and the restart of the Joe Cool on Sept. 22, 2007. This particular stop and restart of the vessel is when officials believe the hijacking and murders took place.

Gilbert warned the jury not to believe the defense's case, that Zarabozo was misled and naive. Gilbert told them, "He knew Archer was on the run from Arkansas and he agreed to sign up."

"Sympathy can play no part -- this is a quadruple homicide," Gilbert said.

As of Sept. 29, after four days of deliberation, the jury had not come to a verdict.

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