Jury: Washington guilty in torture and slayings
Thirty years in prison the first time.
A lifetime the second.
That is the order in which Roderick Washington’s guilt was determined for his role in the 2006 tortures and killings of Alexis, 18, and Jeffrey Sosa, 14, over the course of two murder trials.
Washington, 19, was found guilty of two counts of aggravated battery with a deadly weapon during his first trial in May, and was sentenced to serve two consecutive 15-year prison terms.
The alleged member of the “Cash Feenz” rap group accused in the brutal slayings will now face a mandatory life prison sentence for two counts each of first-degree murder and kidnapping.
A 10-man, 2-woman jury determined Washington’s guilt over the course of three hours Monday.
The decision stands in staunch contrast to the May trial when the jury deadlocked on the murder and kidnapping charges after nearly a day and a half behind closed doors.
Washington shared a silent nod with a family member in the courtroom gallery as he was fingerprinted and escorted into custody.
Outside the courtroom on the eighth floor of the Lee County Justice Center annex building, a woman burst into sobs and embraced her child.
Members of the Washington family declined to comment on his conviction.
Despite defense attorney Paul Sullivan’s protests that the state’s witnesses were unreliable party-goers and co-defendants who would say anything to keep their plea deals, the jury relied on the collective testimony to adjudicate Washington guilty on all counts.
“We’re obviously very pleased with the verdict,” said Assistant State Attorney Marie Doerr. “We’ve felt all along that Mr. Washington was a major player in these Cash Feenz tortures and murders. We’re pleased that they took three hours to come back and find a verdict of guilty on these four serious charges.”
Doerr said that bringing in additional witnesses and tightening loose ends in the few months between trials likely strengthened their case against Washington, possibly a factor in the second jury’s notably quicker decision.
Witnesses pegged Washington as holding a gun to the Sosas as they were bound, carved with knives, covered with bleach and shocked with a Taser at the birthday party of co-defendant Kemar Johnston.
They also said he helped place the Sosas in the trunk of a car used to transport them to a north Cape Coral industrial site where they were fatally shot.
Co-defendants, including Alexis Fernandez, Iriana Santos, Melissa Rivera and Michael Balint, along with several party-goers, were hazy on various details of the evening the Sosas were killed, but remembered distinctively Washington wielding a .22-caliber rifle and, at one point, a pistol.
Washington’s part in the kidnapping of the Sosas makes him a principal to their murders, regardless of premeditation, because of the inherent danger of holding another human being against their will.
Washington will be sentenced Monday before Lee Circuit Judge Thomas Reese.
He has 30 days from the date of his sentencing to appeal the decision.
Washington is the second Cash Feenz defendant to be found guilty in the 2006 double murder, after Ashley Toye who was previously sentenced to life without parole.
Co-defendants Kemar Johnston, Kenneth Lopez and Paul Nunez still await trial in the case.
Melissa Rivera, Iriana Santos, Alexis Fernandez, Cody Roux and Michael Balint have each pleaded guilty to lesser crimes and will receive prison sentences varying between 14 and 26 years in exchange for their testimony during the trials of their remaining co-defendants.