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Friday, Apr. 29, 2016

Jury deadlocked

Thursday, October 9, 2008

After five days of deliberation, the jury in the Guillermo Zarabozo trial in Florida, found themselves deadlocked on 12 out of 16 charges.

The jury found Zarabozo guilty of four counts of causing death through the use of a firearm. U.S. District Judge Paul Huck accepted the guilty charges.

Included in the other 12 counts the jury deadlocked on, were kidnapping and first-degree murder. Judge Huck declared a mistrial on these charges.

Kirby Archer of Strawberry, Ark., was on the run from Arkansas authorities after stealing $92,000 from the Batesville Wal-Mart, where he was employed as a night manager. Archer was also being questioned on charges of child molestation.

Archer was apprehended just 30 miles from Cuban waters on a life raft accompanied by Zarabozo. Later Archer plead guilty to the murder of four crew members naming Zarabozo as his accomplice. Archer's sentencing is set for October.

The trial for Zarabozo started Sept. 15 with 16 counts against him, all carrying life sentences. During the trial the prosecution tried to prove that Archer and Zarabozo had known each other for several months and planned the hijacking of the fishing vessel, the Joe Cool.

Zarabozo and his defense team said he was a victim too. Zarabozo claimed Archer had tricked him into thinking they were chartering the boat to get to Bimini for a high-level government bodyguard job.

According to a south Florida newspaper, Zarabozo testified that while he was in the boat's cabin bathroom he heard shots, opened the door and saw Samue Kairy, 27, running for his life. Zarabozo said he closed the door and heard more shots and when he opened the door again he saw Archer standing over Kairy's body.

"Why did you do that for?" Zarabozo said he asked Archer. He said Archer then ordered him to shut up and get upstairs.

Zarabozo testified that Archer used his 9mm Glock to kill all four victims, then ordered Zarabozo, at gunpoint, to help him push the bodies overboard.

The victims, Scott Gamble, 35, Samuel Kairy, 27, Jake and Kelley Branam, were all shot and their bodies thrown overboard. Jake and Kelley Branam were the parents of two small children who are now being cared for by relatives.

On Sept. 25, the jurors sent a note asking Judge Huck, "If Zarabozo had taken his gun onboard the Joe Cool but did not know a crime would be committed, was he still automatically guilty?" In reply to the jury's question the judge told them to reread their instructions and the indictment.

On Sept. 29, the jury had declared themselves deadlocked but Judge Huck pushed them to keep trying. At 5:15 p.m., on Sept. 30 the jury had made their decision. "We're deadlocked on 12 counts, but have reached consensus on four," the note read that the jury sent to Judge Huck.

Judge Huck ruled to keep the four verdicts and declared a mistrial on the remaining 12 counts.

While the prosecution plans to retry the case, the defense said they would like to challenge the verdict. The defense said the verdict was inconsistent and asked how they could find Zarabozo guilty of causing death through the use of a firearm and not make a decision on the other charges.

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