Relatives of charter-boat captain Jake Branam, his wife and two crew members were initially relieved with the guilty verdicts against Guillermo Zarabozo, 20. The jury had convicted Zarabozo of providing one of the guns used to kill the captain and crew of the charter boat Joe Cool. However, the jury was deadlocked on 12 other charges against Zarabozo alleging conspiracy, kidnapping and murder. Zarabozo faces a retrial on those charges on Jan. 20, and the dismissed weapons charges should be added to that case.
Jury sought clarification
The jury obviously was confused in its deliberations. It sent a note to Judge Hulk asking for clarification of whether Zarabozo would ''automatically'' be considered a participant in the kidnappings and murders if he brought the gun aboard the boat not knowing that crimes would be committed. The judge didn't clarify the point, and sent them back to deliberate.
That was a mistake, Judge Hulk said last week. He acknowledged that he should have told the jurors they could find Zarabozo guilty of the gun charges only if they also found him liable for the kidnappings or deaths. It is rare for a judge to publicly admit to a trial error, especially after a verdict has been rendered. For this, Judge Hulk deserves credit. It took courage and conviction for him to do so.