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Ghost Boat: Prosecutors give new details

MIAMI (AP) — Investigators found bullet casings on a charter boat whose four crew members are missing and one of the two men held in the possible quadruple slaying had blow gun darts and knives when found at sea, federal prosecutors said Tuesday.

The new details came as a judge ordered the two men held without bond in the still-unsolved mystery of what happened to the crew of the “Joe Cool.”

Kirby Logan Archer, 35, and Guillermo Zarabozo, 19, have not been charged with homicide as prosecutors keep investigating. The two boarded the boat on Sept. 22 and the crew was last heard from a day later. The day after that, the Coast Guard found the pair in the boat’s life raft, a few miles from the abandoned vessel.

Zarabozo had blow gun darts and knives on him when authorities found them. Federal investigators are awaiting the results of a DNA test on what appeared to be blood on the boat’s stern.joecool3.jpg

Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Tsai said the men were found 35 miles from Cuba, a country that doesn’t extradite people being sought by the United States, and had with them a “large amount” of clothes and personal belongings.

“Your honor, this is a one-way trip out of the country,” Tsai told the judge.

Defense attorneys sought to discredit the charges currently facing their clients, and said no evidence has been presented to link them to the slayings.

But based on circumstantial evidence, U.S. Magistrate Judge William Turnoff ruled that they pose a flight risk and are a potential danger to the community.

Authorities don’t believe Zarabozo’s story about the boat being hijacked on its way from Miami to Bimini, Bahamas. Zarabozo told the FBI that unknown pirates boarded the vessel and shot the captain and three crew members one by one, forcing him to throw the bodies into the sea.

The FBI affidavit does not quote either man as explaining why the supposed hijackers let them go, or why they had their luggage with them on the life raft. Zarabozo was born in Cuba and Archer, who speaks Spanish, served there as a military police investigator at the U.S. Naval base at Guantanamo Bay.

Zarabozo is charged with lying to the FBI when he allegedly said he was not on the “Joe Cool.” Archer is charged with fleeing prosecution in connection to the robbery of an Arkansas Wal-Mart where he was a manager.

Archer’s court-appointed lawyer, Allan Kaiser, said his client was not trying to flee because he didn’t give a false name when police stopped him for a traffic violation soon after the robbery, when he chartered the boat or during his latest arrest, he said.

Archer left the Arkansas before the warrant for his robbery arrest was issued, Kaiser said.

Public defender Faith Mesnekoff said that Zarabozo denied being on the “Joe Cool” because he didn’t recognize the boat when investigators showed it to him. Zarabozo told investigators he was on a vessel called the “Sissy Baby,” which is actually the name of the company that owns the boat.

“It makes no sense,” Mesnekoff said, for Zarabozo to give such a detailed account of what happened but lie about being on the boat. Authorities say they found his ID on the boat.

An arraignment for the men was scheduled for Oct. 11. They were to remain at a federal detention center in Miami.

Still missing are the boat’s captain, Jake Branam, 27; his wife Kelley Branam, 30; his half brother, Scott Gamble, 30; and Samuel Kairy, 27, all of Miami Beach. The Coast Guard suspended its search for them late last week.

Source: WSVN

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