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Crime News Cold Justice

Former Florida Gators Player Sentenced to 25 Years for Girlfriend's Murder Solved with Help From Cold Justice

Earl Joiner was arrested for his girlfriend Heyzel Obando's murder after Florida officials teamed up with veteran investigators from Oxygen's Cold Justice.

By Cydney Contreras

An ex-college football player has been found responsible for the murder of his girlfriend in a case that Oxygen's own Cold Justice played a pivotal role in.

How to Watch

Watch Cold Justice on Peacock and the Oxygen App.

Former Florida Gators player Earl Joiner has pleaded no contest and was adjudicated guilty to the charge of second-degree murder in the 2016 killing of live-in girlfriend Heyzel Obando and was sentenced to 25 years in prison, according to a statement from Office of the State Attorney Amira Fox.

RELATED: Cold Justice Cases That Led to Arrests

As part of his sentence, he is forbidden from contacting the Obando family and his two daughters, who are in Obando's mother's custody.

The former college football star was arrested in June 2019 for second-degree murder after veteran investigators from Oxygen's Cold Justice assisted the Fort Myers Police Department and the State Attorney's Office with their investigation into Obando's February 2016 death. The case had run cold but was revived with help from prosecutor Kelly Siegler and homicide investigator Tonya Rider, as well as digital forensics expert Eric Devlin.

Earl Joiner

Back in 2016, Joiner had said he was returning from a trip to visit his mother when he found Obando's remains on Valentine's Day 2016. The 26-year-old had been shot in the head and died 24 to 36 hours prior to being discovered, according to Cold Justice.

During the joint investigation, the team heard from friends who claimed that Joiner had been cheating on Obando, as he'd frequently visited strip clubs in the area. In addition, they reviewed a suspicious 911 call in which Joiner can be heard apologizing repeatedly and text messages between Joiner and others. Some of those messages suggested that Obando and Joiner were fighting in the months leading up to the mother of two's death.

The team also spoke with Joiner himself in a tense recorded conversation played in the episode. When a detective began to question him about owning guns, Joiner abruptly ended the interview.

Following more than a week of investigation, the Fort Myers Police Department arrested Joiner at the car dealership where he worked. It was the 43rd arrest the show had contributed to.

Fort Myers Police Sergeant Lisa Breneman said at a 2019 news conference announcing Joiner's arrest that working with Cold Justice gave them the opportunity to focus solely on cases like Obando's. She added, "It’s a luxury we don’t often have, because of fresh cases and other things coming in." 

To hear about more cold cases investigated by Siegler and more, watch Cold Justice on Oxygen and catch up on past seasons on Peacock.