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Witnesses provide details in Sosas’ murders

By Staff | Jan 19, 2010

Testimony continued this afternoon in day two of the murder trial for Cash Feenz defendant Kemar Johnston.
Before court recessed for lunch, the state called to the stand four witnesses, including a detective with the arson bureau of the State Fire Marshal’s Office and two employees with the District 21 Medical Examiner’s Office. The 12-member jury, including two alternates, learned about the findings from the vehicle fire investigation and two autopsies.
Johnston, 23, faces two counts each of first-degree murder, kidnapping and aggravated battery with a deadly weapon in the October 2006 deaths of Alexis Sosa, 18, and Jeffrey Sosa, 14. If convicted, Johnston faces life in prison without parole or death.
The Sosas were hog-tied, beaten and tortured at a Cape Coral duplex during a birthday party. The two were then driven to an industrial park off of Andalusia Boulevard, where they were fatally shot and the body of Alexis was burned in the trunk of a vehicle. Fire units discovered the crime scene when they responded to a call about a fire at the industrial park.
Ten people were arrested and charged in connection with the double murder.
Det. Lisa Brower began Tuesday’s proceedings by testifying about the findings of her investigation into the vehicle fire. Brower told the jury that from the findings of her investigation, she was able to rule out electrical and accidental causes and determined that the vehicle fire was arson.
“I believe this was an intentionally set fire,” she said.
Brower added that the fire started in the rear passenger area, perhaps also in the trunk.
“The vehicle was very heavily damaged by fire in the rear,” she said.
Dr. Robert Pfalzgraf, deputy chief medical examiner, testified to the cause and manner of death for Alexis and Jeffrey Sosa. He told the jury that the autopsies revealed that Jeffrey died of gunshot wounds to the neck and chest, and that Alexis died of gunshot wounds to the torso and head.
Pfalzgraf recorded seven gunshot wounds on Jeffrey. He said three bullets were removed from Alexis’ torso and evidence existed of a possible gunshot wound to the head, but the condition of the Alexis’ body prohibited officials from determining the total number of gunshot wounds on his body.
“It was clear that this body had been burned by fire,” Pfalzgraf said. “The body was unrecognizable. The facial features were gone. The hands were burned away. Almost all of the skin was gone and all that was left was the charred remnants of the torso and head and some of the extremities.”
He testified that both men had drugs in their system at the time of their deaths. The autopsies also revealed no soot in their lungs and Jeff had a small amount of carbon monoxide in his body, according to their toxicology reports, indicating that the Sosas were likely dead when the vehicle fire took place.
Testimony continued Tuesday afternoon at the Lee County Justice Center before 20th Judicial Circuit Judge Thomas S. Reese. Assistant State Attorneys Bob Lee and Marie Doerr are prosecuting the case, and attorneys David A. Brener and Terry Lenamon are defending Johnston.