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New attorney appointed for Cash Feenz defendant

By Staff | Jan 4, 2010

A judge appointed new counsel for one of the alleged Cash Feenz defendants during a hearing at the courthouse Monday morning.
Defense attorney David M. Peckins of Miami had been representing Paul Nunes in the 2006 Cape Coral double murder of Alexis and Jeffrey Sosa. On Monday, 20th Judicial Circuit Judge Thomas S. Reese asked attorney Melodee Smith of Fort Lauderdale to replace Peckins in representing Nunes.
The judge asked Smith to accept the conflict counsel appointment, Smith said during a telephone interview Monday evening. Knowing little of the case, she said it will take some time for her to look over the file and start working on it.
Smith added that she could not comment on a request by Nunes to have his plea deal withdrawn due to her unfamiliarity with the case.
Nunes pleaded guilty in August for a reduced sentence in the Sosa murders. As part of his plea deal with the state, he would testify against his co-defendants to receive 40 years in prison on two counts each of second-degree murder, kidnapping and aggravated battery and one count of arson.
During a court appearance Dec. 28, Nunes requested that his plea deal be withdrawn. Reese decided at that time that he would determine at a future hearing whether he would accept Nunes’ plea withdrawal.
According to judicial assistant Terry Mockler, Reese intended to make a decision on the plea withdrawal Monday, but delayed his decision because of the new counsel appointed to Nunes. A new court date will be set later this week, Mockler said, adding that Smith with discuss Nunes’ plea deal and his possible plea withdrawal with her client.
“That’s what the new attorney will help him with,” she said.
Under the plea deal, Nunes is required to testify against co-defendants Kemar Johnston and Kenneth Lopez. Lopez is set to go to trial Feb.1, while jury selection for Johnston’s trial is scheduled to begin today.
Ten people were arrested and charged in the slayings of Alexis Sosa, 18, and Jeffrey Sosa, 14. The Sosas were tied up and tortured at Johnston’s home, then taken to a north Cape industrial site where they were shot and Alexis was burned in the trunk of a car, according to officials.
Roderick Washington and Ashley Toye were found guilty following separate trials. Washington received four consecutive life sentences plus 30 years in prison, and Toye was sentenced to life in prison without parole.
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 years and 26 years in exchange for their testimony.