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‘Confession’ in Miami charter boat murder case

DEC. 21 — An anonymous inmate from the Miami Federal Detention Center has come forward, stating that one of the men found on the life raft 12 miles from the abandoned 47-foot 1988 Buddy Davis sportfisherman charter boat named Joe Cool admitted to helping his friend murder the captain and crew, according to a formerly sealed court document that was unsealed Wednesday.

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Miami charter a murder mystery

Guillermo Zarabozo, 20, of Hialeah, Fla., allegedly told the unidentified inmate that he did not kill the crew on Joe Cool, but threw the bodies overboard and helped clean the boat after. The crewmembers were shot by 36-year-old Kirby Archer when they refused to take the duo to Cuba, rather than to Bimini in the Bahamas, as previously agreed upon, Zarabozo allegedly said.

The unidentified inmate said he was in the cell next to Zarabozo because he had been convicted earlier this year of being a felon in possession of a firearm, according to the article. If the inmate’s information is true, it will render null and void the earlier excuse that Zarabozo and Archer made about pirates attacking the ship and sparing no one’s life except for their own.

The FBI charged Kirby and Zarabozo with first-degree murder on Oct. 10 for the killing of Capt. Jake Branam, 27; his wife Kelly, 30; half-brother Scott Gamble, 36; and crewmember Samuel Kairy, according to an article in the December issue of Soundings. The pair had paid the crew $4,000 cash for a charter to Bimini in late September.

The inmate also told investigators that Zarabozo said after unsuccessfully trying to steer the yacht toward Cuba, they decided to make a run for it in the life raft. In the raft, with their luggage, they threw their guns into the water, according to the inmate. Although the bodies and the murder weapon have not been found, the FBI found four 9 mm shell casings on the yacht, and both Zarabozo and Archer had knives, a blow gun and blow gun darts with them when they were rescued.

Defense attorneys are now questioning whether the inmate was a planted government informant, which would be a violation of Zarabozo’s right to counsel, according to a report in the Sun-Sentinel newspaper.

“This guy is making up a story,” said Humberto Dominguez, representing Archer, to the Sun-Sentinel. “To believe that somehow this guy confessed through the way to the guy next to him; it’s bunk.”

— Elizabeth Ellis