Co-defendant, police testify in Washington retrial
Michael Balint, a co-defendant in the Roderick Washington double-murder retrial, has taken the stand as a state’s witness.
Balint is accused of hogtying Alexis Sosa with shoelaces prior to the Sosas being tortured and killed at co-defendant Kemar Johnston’s birthday party in 2006. He has accepted a plea deal to serve 14 years in prison for two counts of kidnaping in exchange for his testimony.
He is also serving a concurrent 5-year prison term for battery on an inmate.
Balint said he beat Kenneth Mitchell, a man convicted of killing his best friend.
Balint told jurors he had spent the night drinking, smoking pot and taking Xanex the night the Sosas were killed. He testified to visiting the strip club Emerald City in Port Charlotte before going to Kemar Johnston’s house to buy pot at 2 a.m.
Balint testified that Washington held a handgun to the Sosas as they sat on the floor of Johnston’s home, and later a .22 rifle.
“He was poking them in the ribs with it, telling them not to move and stuff,” Balint told the jury.
Balint said he went home prior to the torture and killing of Jeffrey and Alexis Sosa and did not witness the acts. He said he was still intoxicated the next day, and did not know who called him to tell him the Sosas had been killed.
Larry Stringham, forensic supervisor for the Cape Coral Police Department, testified to evidence found at the north Cape industrial site where the Sosas’ bodies were discovered as well as at Johnston’s home. Evidence found includes bullet casings, live rounds, shoe and tire prints and a comforter containing Alexis Sosa’s DNA.
Additionally, a firearm was later discovered under insulation in Johnston’s attic, which had not been located there initially.
The trial is in recess for lunch, and will resume at 1:20 p.m.