Updates to our Terms of Use

We are updating our Terms of Use. Please carefully review the updated Terms before proceeding to our website.

Saturday, May 25, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Joe Cool Boat Owner Sued Over 2007 Murders

MIAMI (CN) - The parents of one of four Miami Beach crew members murdered on the "Joe Cool" charter boat have accused Charter Co. and its owner of failing to prevent the September 2007 hijacking and murders.

Shirley Clow and Albert Gamble, the parents of victim Scott Gamble, 35, filed suit against Sissy Baby Sport Fishing Inc., Jeff Branam, LR Alliance Manufacturing Inc. and Deep Sea Miami Inc. in Federal Court.

Branam is the sole officer and shareholder of Deep Sea, which owned Joe Cool. He was also the uncle to boat captain Jack Branam, 27, and his wife, Kelley, 30, who were killed in the hijacking, along with crew members Gamble and Samuel Kairy, 27.

Kirby Archer and Guillermo Zarabozo were convicted of the murders.

They allegedly paid Jeff Branam $4,000 in cash for a short trip to Bimini, Bahamas, after telling him they didn't have passports and wished to avoid customs and immigration. Branam accepted the money "from a large roll of $100 dollar bills" and helped the murderers load their cash-and-gun-laden duffle bags onto the boat without searching them, the Gambles claim.

The Bimini charter was a red herring for Archer, 37, to hijack the boat and head to Cuba, the lawsuit claims.

Archer, a former military police investigator previously stationed at Guantanamo Bay, met co-conspirator Guillermo Zarabozo while Archer was fleeing child molestation and theft charges, according to the Associated Press.

After the duo shot and killed the crew members, they threw the bodies overboard, never to be found. The Coast Guard stopped the vessel by Cuba, and Archer and Zarabozo tried to claim that Cuban pirates had killed everyone on board before setting them free, but Archer later admitted that the story was a lie.

Archer pleaded guilty in July to first-degree murder, robbery, kidnapping and hijacking, and on Oct. 14, 2008, a federal judge in Miami sentenced him to five consecutive life terms. In February 2009, a federal jury convicted Zarabozo of conspiracy, four counts of first-degree murder and kidnapping, robbery, hijacking and violence aboard a ship, and four weapons charges. He will be sentenced May 6.

Joe Cool was put up for auction in October 2008.

The plaintiffs are represented by Phil Goldstein with Pivnik & Nitsche PA.

Categories / Uncategorized

Subscribe to Closing Arguments

Sign up for new weekly newsletter Closing Arguments to get the latest about ongoing trials, major litigation and hot cases and rulings in courthouses around the U.S. and the world.