Jurors picked for ‘Cash Feenz’ trial
A seemingly daunting task, state and defense attorneys have now seated an unbiased jury for the second time to try Roderick Washington in the highly-publicized “Cash Feenz” double murder case.
The 12-man, two-woman jury, including two alternates, was seated Wednesday afternoon in the courtroom of Lee Circuit Judge Thomas Reese.
Washington is one of 10 individuals initially charged in the 2006 beating, torture and killing of Alexis and Jeffrey Sosa during a birthday party of co-defendant Kemar Johnston.
The Sosas were tied up at gunpoint, carved with knives, covered in bleach, and eventually shot and killed in a north Cape Coral industrial park, according to police documents.
Washington is accused of holding a gun on the Sosas as they were tied up and tortured in Johnston’s Cape home.
In May, Washington was tried on two counts each of first-degree murder, kidnaping and aggravated battery with a deadly weapon. After a day and a half of deliberations, the jury found him guilty of the two counts of aggravated battery but deadlocked on the other charges.
A mistrial was declared for the remaining counts.
Washington was sentenced Tuesday afternoon, a day before his retrial began for the remaining four charges, to serve two 15-year prison sentences for the aggravated battery counts.
If convicted in the retrial, Washington faces life in prison.
Though many of the 55 potential jurors Wednesday had heard of the killings through news accounts and word of mouth, most said they could remain unbiased regardless.
Attorneys felt that one woman, a Challenger Middle School teacher who had known the Sosas, and a former North Fort Myers High student who said he knew co-defendant Cody Roux and several witnesses could not be unbiased. They were dismissed during questioning.
Several others whose religions did not allow them to stand in judgment of others were also dismissed.
Jurors were questioned by attorneys throughout the afternoon into the evening, both individually and in open court.
They were asked how they would consider the testimony of co-defendants who had accepted state plea deals, if they thought mixing pills with alcohol altered a person’s ability to remember and what they thought about peer pressure and gang violence.
Both the state and the defense will present their opening arguments today at 9 a.m.
Washington’s trial is anticipated to run into early next week, possibly Tuesday, according to Reese.