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Jury still out in ‘Cash Feenz’ double murder trial

By Staff | May 8, 2009

Deputies snuffed out a heated argument Thursday between members of the Sosa and Washington families outside of the courtroom where Roderick Washington is being tried for murder, but the apparent disagreement in the jury room continued on into today.
The 12-person jury deliberated for about six hours Thursday before deciding it would like to pick things up where it left off at 9 a.m. today.
The jury’s job is to decide if Washington is guilty of two counts each of first-degree murder, kidnaping and aggravated battery with a deadly weapon in the 2006 double homicide of Alexis and Jeffrey Sosa. If jurors find him guilty, Washington faces a life prison sentence.
Over the several days of trial thus far, spectators from both the victims’ and defendant’s families have grown in numbers.
Thursday afternoon as the jury deliberated, tensions apparently escalated, nearly to a fist fight.
A witness told the Cape Coral Daily Breeze that the tiff was between two younger males from the families.
“Some words were exchanged,” the witness said.
However, by the time the Lee County sheriff’s deputies in the courtroom flanked the individuals, the confrontation was already over.
“It didn’t last long at all — a matter of seconds,” said Lee County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson John Sheehan.
No one wanted to press charges and no arrests were made.
Assistant State Attorney Bob Lee talked about group mentality and Washington’s part in the “Cash Feenz,” a rap group and alleged gang involved in the beating, torture and killing of Jeffery and Alexis Sosa.
“They were all guilty, whether they all pulled the trigger or not,” he told the jury. “There was no question it was premeditation and it’s the same as if (Washington) held the gun. That rap group, that started out as a group, became a gang that night in the worst possible way. He knew they were going to be killed. He knew.
“Ladies and gentlemen, how could he not?” Lee asked.
Paul Sullivan, Washington’s defense lawyer, focused his arguments on what he said is the state’s lack of evidence presented at trial and the poor caliber of witness reliability.
Eyewitnesses were primarily co-defendants avoiding the death penalty through plea deals, drug users and police witnesses who were unable to present evidence to convict Washington, he argued.
“I’m not saying the police didn’t do their jobs, I’m saying a lack of evidence can cause reasonable doubt,” Sullivan said. “This is a courtroom. That young man is charged with murder.
“Is that the best they can give us? Why do we have to rely on those kinds of witnesses?” he asked. “If there’s scientific evidence that would back up those losers, please, bring it on.”
When court recessed for the day, the Sosas were escorted from the courtroom by bailiffs, though the Washington family and friends had not returned to the courtroom.
Jurors were asked Thursday night not to read any media articles or talk about the case.