CBS News 4 of Miami reports that according to a filing by the U.S. Attorney’s Office prosecuting Guillermo Zarabozo for murder in the “Joe Cool” case, polygrapher Tom Mote, a former Metro-Dade detective and member of the Florida Polygraph Association, attempted to conceal unfavorable polygraph results. Zarabozo’s attorneys are seeking to have the results of polygraph examinations that Zarabozo passed with Mote admitted into evidence:
New Developments In “Joe Cool” Murder Case
MIAMI (CBS News) – There are new developments in the high profile case of a murder at sea. CBS4 has learned that one of the suspects in the “Joe Cool” murder case took several polygraph tests but there were conflicting results.
Guillermo Zarabozo, one of two men accused of hijacking a boat and killing the four crew members, reportedly passed two lie detector tests but failed two others. Federal prosecutors claim the defense and the polygraph examiner tried to conceal the questionable test results.
In Federal court on Tuesday, Zarabozo’s attorneys argued that their client passed two lie detector tests and they filed a motion asking for permission to admit those polygraphs results as evidence at his trial.
However, federal prosecutors claim the defense has been less than truthful and failed to reveal that Zarabozo also failed two other lie detector tests.
In recently filed papers, prosecutors say in one polygraph exam, “Deception noted… (when asked) whether he shot any of the crew members of the Joe Cool.”
The government also suggests the polygraph examiner, Tom Mote, tried to conceal the questionable test results. They quote Mote as saying to Zarabozo in a videotaped session, “If the FBI were doing this test, it’s bad news. As far as this test is concerned, it never happened. I wasn’t here.”
CBS4’s Gary Nelson reached polygraph examiner Tom Mote on the phone Thursday. He declined to comment for this story.
“The defense has filed a motion that’s just blown up in its face,” said CBS4 legal expert Kendall Coffey.
Legal experts say Zarabozo’s attorneys have blown any chance of getting polygraph evidence into court.
“Why the Court would want to even consider admitting any of these tests in this case now would certainly be unfathomable,” according to Coffey.
The accused killer’s lawyers could face possible sanctions.
“The judge may want to ask the attorneys why the Court was only presented with half of the truth about these lie detector tests,” said Coffey.
Zarabozo’s attorney Tony Natale denied any effort to conceal the suspect polygraph results, telling CBS4’s Gary Nelson, “It’s absurd for the government to say we didn’t reveal everything, when the information they have is information we gave them.”
In court papers though, prosecutors say they got the truth about the questionably lie detector tests only after learning of them from a third party.
Judge Paul Huck has not yet scheduled a hearing on Guillermo Zarabozo’s lie detector tests – the ones he passed and the ones he may not have. His co-defendant Kirby Archer is expected to plead guilty on Thursday. He faces life in prison without parole.
Zarabozo and Archer are both accused of hiring the Joe Cool charter book for a trip to Bimini. During the trip, they allegedly tried to divert it to Cuba, but fatally shot the captain, his wife and two deckhands when they refused to take the men to Cuba.
According to previously released court documents, Zarabozo said the pair wanted to reach Cuba because the Caribbean island doesn’t grant extraditions to the United States. Zarabozo also supposedly said he threw the bodies into the ocean and cleaned up the boat.
Zarabozo and Archer claimed Branam and his crew were killed by Cuban pirates who attacked the boat at sea. They also claimed a third boat picked up the hijackers who left the defendants in a life raft.