Joseph Zieler sentenced to death in double murder cold case

Posted at 5:03 PM, June 26, 2023 and last updated 11:09 AM, June 27, 2023

LEE COUNTY, Fla. (Scripps News Fort Myers) — Judge Robert Banning sentenced Joseph Zieler to death for the horrific murder and rape of 11-year-old Robin Cornell and her babysitter 32-year-old Lisa Story in Cape Coral in 1990. Zieler was handed two death sentences for each victim.

Joseph Zieler appears at his sentencing.

Joseph Zieler appears at his sentencing. (Scripps News Fort Myers)

The loved ones of both victims expressed how their lives were never the same after the horrific murders. Jan Cornell, Robin’s mother, said despite so many years of grief and darkness she knew she had to fight for justice for her daughter and friend.

“In their case, I needed to be their voice, I wasn’t going to let either one of them down,” Cornell said.

RELATED: Joseph Zieler elbows attorney hours before sentencing

Broken is how Cornell said she felt for the past 33 years after walking into her Cape Coral home and finding her daughter and friend brutally raped and murdered.

“I wasn’t there that night to save them or at least help one get away and for 33 years I wasn’t going to let them down,” Cornell said.

Years of pain and suffering for the victim’s loved ones, years of countless hours from Cape Coral Police and the State Attorney’s office piecing together what happened that early morning back in the 90s. Now, on Monday, 33 years later Joseph Zieler the man behind this horrific double murder met his fate.

“The court concludes that under the laws of the State of Florida, the defendant has forfeited his right to live,” said Judge Robert Branning as he announced the sentencing.

Photos of Robin Cornell (left) and Lisa Story (right) that were released by the Cape Coral Police Dept.

L to R: Robin Cornell, 11, and Lisa Story, 32, were found dead in their Florida apartment. (Cape Coral Police Dept.)

“I moved here in 1990 and this crime had just happened, I was a young prosecutor then and it stuck with me all of that time,” said State Attorney Amira Fox. To see 33 years later this justice served I felt chills in the courtroom.”

State Attorney Fox felt close to this case because she worked on it for decades.

Attorney Kevin Shirley said Zieler will appeal.

Before his sentencing, Zieler was back in court Monday morning in hopes of getting a re-trial prior to his sentencing hearing.

Chaos erupted in a Lee County Courtroom on Monday morning after Joseph Zieler elbowed his attorney in the face.

This story was originally published by Scripps News Forth Myers, an E.W. Scripps Company.