WSVN — Questions tonight about one of South Florida’s most infamous murders. A woman is sitting in prison for the rest of her life, and some claim it’s because of bogus testimony. Investigative reporter Carmel Cafiero digs into this old case.
Joyce Cohen has been in prison for the past 25 years, convicted of killing her wealthy husband. She could be locked up for the rest of her life, a life that changed March 7, 1986, when her husband Stanley was shot as he slept in his bed.
Joyce Cohen: “Yeah, in an instant, and I really, really wish that I had died, too.”
Carmel Cafiero: “That’s a tough thing to say. “
Joyce Cohen: “It would have been easier than living.”
Carmel Cafiero: “Like this?”
(Joyce Cohen nods.)
Joyce and Stanley had been a golden couple, with a home in Coconut Grove and a ranch in Colorado. Their lives were full, with lots of friends and lots of money.
Joyce Cohen: “It was really a good life. If you could pick a fairy tale life from where I came from, that was it.”
Carmel Cafiero: “Did you have anything to do with Stanley’s murder?”
Joyce Cohen: “No.”
I met with Joyce at the Homestead Correctional Institution after being contacted by Tommy Joslin. Joslin was one of three men authorities claimed Cohen hired to kill her husband.
Tommy Joslin: “They wanted me to testify against Joyce Cohen, and I tell them, ‘I can’t, because I don’t know her.'”
Joslin insists he had nothing to do with Stanley Cohen’s murder.
Tommy Joslin: “If I sit here and tell you, ‘I killed Stanley Cohen,’ everybody in the world wants to listen, right? Everybody in the world wants to listen. But if I tell you, ‘I didn’t kill Stanley Cohen,’ nobody wants to listen.”
Joslin says authorities knew he wasn’t involved, but pressured him with threats of the electric chair if he went to trial on the murder charge.
Tommy Joslin: “I was more or less forced into pleading guilty to second-degree murder.”
Joslin was already facing time for home invasions and got a deal to serve both sentences at the same time. He’s been out of jail for nine years now, and says he has no reason to lie about the case.
Tommy Joslin: “And I think Joyce Cohen, who I never met, never spoke to, I think that she deserves a fair trial whether she did it or not.”
The man who allegedly shot Stanley Cohen, Anthony Caracciolo told a TV show years ago that, like Joslin, he also was not involved.
Anthony Caracciolo: “I never in my life met the woman, nor have I been in the room with the woman.”
He also entered a guilty plea, and like Joslin, also claimed he was pressured. Both had been identified by jailhouse snitch Frank Zuccarello, who claimed to be part of the murder team.
Carmel Cafiero: “Zuccarello got a sweet deal on his criminal charges in return. However, he failed polygraphs and told varying accounts of what happened.”
Alan Ross: “You would have to be deaf, dumb, blind and stupid to believe what he had to say.”
Alan Ross has represented Joyce for decades. He says everybody knew the murder-for-hire story was bogus.
Alan Ross: “Are prosecutors turning a blind eye to the obvious perjury? Are police officers turning a blind eye to obvious perjury, even worse, are they supporting it, are they encouraging it? You know, I don’t know where the line falls.”
Joyce Cohen: “They had to make it fit. You know, it’s like putting this square peg in a round hole. They didn’t care what they had to do to get it to fit so they could get a conviction.”
Joyce’s future is bleak. Her appeals have been exhausted, and after being turned down for parole, she thinks she may die in prison.
Joyce Cohen: “Even though I didn’t do this, these people know I didn’t do this. The prosecutors know this was not true. The detectives know that this is not true. They know that these people lied, and they used them anyway.”
Alan Ross: “I can’t imagine another case where so much has surfaced post conviction indicating her innocence, indicating that witnesses lied, indicating, you know, things were manipulated in a way that may indeed be criminal, even, and yet no relief.”
And yet, no outside investigation of those possible manipulations has ever taken place.
Joyce Cohen: “It doesn’t seem to matter what has happened. No matter what has happened, they don’t — no one seems to care.”
Carmel Cafiero, 7News.
The Miami-Dade State Attorney’s office turned down our request for an interview, pointing out that all of Joyce Cohen’s appeals ended with the courts upholding her conviction.
IF YOU HAVE A STORY FOR CARMEL TO INVESTIGATE:
You can also send a tweet to @carmelonthecase.