Testimony continues in first day of Kemar Johnston’s murder trial
Witness testimony continued this afternoon in the murder trial of alleged Cash Feenz defendant Kemar Johnston at the Lee County Justice Center in Fort Myers.
Following nearly two weeks of jury selection, opening statements were presented this morning before a 14-member jury.
Assistant State Attorney Marie Doerr and defense attorney Terry Lenamon described for jurors an October 2006 birthday party that started at a Cape Coral duplex and ended with the deaths of Alexis Sosa, 18, and Jeffrey Sosa, 14. The Sosas were beaten and tortured, then hog-tied and driven to a north Cape industrial park. At the industrial park, Alexis and his nephew were fatally shot and Alexis’ body was burned in the trunk of a car.
The prosecution claimed that Johnston played a main role in the murders, while the defense argued that he did not and that he had no real motive for hurting the victims.
“Alexis Sosa is dead. Jeffrey Sosa is dead,” Doerr said, “and the evidence is going to show their deaths are the direct result of Kemar Johnston and his co-defendants’ actions.”
“You will discover Alexis Sosa was a violent, out-of-control, crack-smoking, gun-carrying member of this community and not only did he cross one person, he pretty much crossed everybody at that party except Kemar Johnston,” Lenamon said. “The person who had the least motive in this case to hurt these young men was Kemar Johnston.”
Johnston, 23, faces two counts each of first-degree murder, kidnapping and aggravated battery with a deadly weapon. If convicted, he faces life in prison without parole or death.
The prosecution kicked off today’s proceedings by calling to the witness stand a Cape firefighter who responded to a report of a fire at the industrial park, only to discover the burning car containing the remains of Alexis’ body and Jeffrey’s body nearby. Lt. Brian Lauer testified to finding the vehicle “fairly engulfed” in flames, then later seeing “what looked like an exposed leg bone.”
Following cross-examination by the defense, Lauer was dismissed and a silent video of the crime scene was played for the jurors. It contained footage of the area surrounding the scene, along with the burned car and the body of Jeffrey as they were discovered that day.
The state next called on Cape Coral Police Det. Kurt Grau, the lead detective who was responsible for overseeing the questioning of the witnesses and suspects in the case. Grau testified about the statements collected during the interviews and the methods by which the statements and information was collected.
During his cross-examination, Lenamon questioned whether Grau and other detectives mistreated witnesses and suspects during the interviews to collect the information they needed to solve the case. The defense discussed the Constitutional rights of individuals and questioned whether Grau had denied one person a lawyer after one was requested.
The state also called to the stand Elizabeth Becka Lansky, a forensic specialist with the Cape Coral Police Department since May 2000. Lanksy testified to the numerous items she collected at the scene, including a lighter, a bloodied comforter and bed ruffle, and bullet casings from two different weapons.
Upon cross-examination, co-counsel and defense attorney David A. Brener questioned how the scene was secured and the collection of the evidence. Lansky reported that fire personnel were on scene before she got there, which Brener indicated through his line of questioning that the crime scene could have been contaminated due to the number of people present.
Witness testimony continued into the afternoon.