State begins case against Cash Feenz defendant Washington
Both the state and defense have given opening arguments this morning in the double-murder retrial of Roderick Washington.
Kurtis Grau, the lead Cape Coral detective in the 2006 murders of Jeffrey and Alexis Sosa, is currently on the witness stand. The jury is being shown a forensics video of the north Cape industrial site where the charred remains of the Sosas and a vehicle were discovered. The video was also shown during Washington’s first trial.
Washington’s friends and family are among those watching the video quietly.
Brian Lauer, an operations lieutenant for the Cape Coral Fire Department, also testified. Lauer was a first responder to a vehicle fire Oct. 7, 2006 at the industrial site where the Sosas were found. Lauer said he discovered a bloody blanket among the remains, which he brought to the attention of police.
“These young teens, Jeffrey and Alexis Sosa, were tied up, beat, tasered, carved with knives, bleach was poured into their wounds and onto their faces. They were shot, killed and eventually set on fire,” Assistant State Attorney Marie Doerr said during opening statements. “This is a case that starts out a mob mentality, peer pressure at its ugliest.”
Doerr described a night of drugs, alcohol and brutal violence at the birthday party of co-defendant Kemar Johnston. The Sosas’ deaths were the result of the cooperation of many individuals acting together, one of whom was Washington, she said.
Defense Attorney Paul Sullivan agreed that a heinous crime had occurred, but argued the evidence couldn’t prove the details of Washington’s involvement beyond a reasonable doubt.
Part of what made the evidence unreliable, Sullivan said, was the unreliability of witnesses who were either intoxicated or had received plea bargains from the state.
“What else happened that night?” Sullivan asked the jury. “Who did what? Who poured bleach on these poor kids? Who hit somebody with a gun? Who did this, who did that, who did what, when? All of that evidence is locked up in the heads of young people whose minds were messed up on drugs and alcohol that night, who’ve told lie after lie after lie.”
Sullivan pointed specifically to the inconsistent statements of co-defendant and state’s witness Alex Fernandez regarding the slayings.
“There’s not going to be evidence of anything to indicate that Rod Washington is guilty of first-degree murder,” Sullivan said. “There’s not going to be evidence that Rod Washington is guilty of a kidnaping.”