Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Murder Charges to Come in Boater Case

By CURT ANDERSON – 7 hours ago

MIAMI (AP) — Federal prosecutors planned to file murder charges Wednesday against two men in the killings of the captain and three crew members of a charter fishing boat, law enforcement officials told The Associated Press.

The charges were expected to be filed against Kirby Logan Archer, 35, and Guillermo Zarabozo, 19, according to two federal law enforcement officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because the charging documents had not yet been filed.

The four people disappeared after Archer and Zarabozo chartered the "Joe Cool" fishing boat last month purportedly for a pleasure trip to Bimini, Bahamas. Both Archer and Zarabozo, who are in custody, could get the death penalty or life in prison if convicted.

Attorneys for Archer and Zarabozo did not immediately return telephone calls seeking comment. A hearing is scheduled Thursday in federal court for both men.

The two men were found floating in the boat's life raft near Cuba with no sign of the captain and crew.

Zarabozo initially claimed that a group of pirates had attacked them at sea and fatally shot the crew. Their bodies have never been found, but investigators recovered four shell casings and blood from the boat.

The boat started out on course for Bimini on Sept. 22 but then turned sharply south and was found abandoned and out of fuel north of Cuba, officials have said. Investigators say the two might have been attempting to reach Cuba.

Zarabozo, of Hialeah, is now being held on charges of lying to a federal agent for claiming he had never been aboard the "Joe Cool." Archer is in custody as a fugitive from Arkansas charged with stealing more than $92,000 from a Wal-Mart where he had been a manager.

The four missing people are the boat's captain, Jake Branam, 27; his wife Kelley Branam, 30; his half brother Scott Gamble, 30; and Samuel Kairy, 27. All are from Miami Beach.

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