Jury recommends death of Southwest Florida man who killed daughter and babysitter – NBC 6 South Florida

Southwest Florida jurors have recommended the death penalty for a man convicted of murdering an 11-year-old girl and her babysitter more than 30 years ago.

The Lee County jury voted 10 to 2 in favor of Joseph Zieler’s death Wednesday night after about five hours of deliberation, court records show. The same panel found Zieler, 60, guilty last week of two counts of first-degree murder.

A judge will make the final decision on whether Zieler will be executed or spend the rest of his life in prison after a hearing on June 26. Florida law previously required a unanimous jury recommendation for a convicted murderer to face the death penalty, but a new law signed last month by Governor Ron DeSantis only requires an 8-4 vote in favor of execution.

Zieler was jailed on an unrelated assault charge in 2016 when his DNA matched the cold-blooded murders of 11-year-old Robin Cornell and 32-year-old Lisa Story, authorities said.

The girl and woman were found in a Cape Coral apartment in May 1990, officials said. Robin’s mother had been out for the night and discovered the suffocated bodies when she returned the next morning. Investigators said both victims were sexually assaulted.

Cape Coral is about 100 miles south of Tampa.


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