Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Murder in Miami: Stan and Joyce Cohen

Guilty As Charged

Frank Zuccarello, the star witness, probably sealed her fate.

"She wanted her husband dead," he said. "The murder was supposed to look like a botched burglary."

He was lucid and believable as he described the planning meeting with Joyce Cohen at a North Miami Beach 7-Eleven parking lot and gave an exacting account of how the job went down, with the woman waiting on the ground floor while Caracciolo went upstairs and killed her husband.

Defense Attorney Ross accused the "conniving" Zuccarello, of make up the story in exchange for a lenient five-year prison sentence, which he had completed even before his testimony.

But the jurors obviously believed him. After hearing three weeks of testimony, they took less than a day to convict Joyce Lemay McDillon Cohen of first-degree murder.

The jury recommended against execution, and Judge Fredricka Smith imposed a life sentence, plus 15 years for conspiracy.

Judge Fredricka Smith
Judge Fredricka Smith

Smith told Cohen, "You committed the crime for financial gain, and you did it in a cold, calculating manner."

Joyce Cohen has been unsuccessful in a series of appeals, and she ultimately lost any claim to Stanley's estate.

Stan (left), with Joyce and her son, Shawn
Stan (left), with Joyce and her son, Shawn

Her son, Shawn, did receive a $106,000 inheritance. But he quickly blew it on drugs. A few years ago, the Miami Herald found him living in a cardboard box in a city park.

"I'm stuck in a rut," he said.

Dominic Dunne's Power, Priviledge and Justice

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