Additional witnesses take stand in Johnston trial
As of this afternoon only two witnesses have taken the stand to testify in the murder trial of alleged Cash Feenz defendant Kemar Johnston.
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. Ten people were arrested and charged in connection with the double murder. If convicted, Johnston faces life in prison without parole or death.
The Sosas were reportedly hog-tied, beaten and tortured at a birthday party at a Cape Coral duplex. They were then driven to an industrial park in the north Cape, where they were fatally shot and the body of Alexis was burned in the trunk of a vehicle. Fire units responding to a call about a fire at the industrial park found the burning car and bodies.
Michael Marquis Taylor took the stand this morning and testified about what he reportedly saw and heard on the night of the party. He told the jury that Johnston pistol-whipped Alexis Sosa in the head, then carved markings into the Sosas’ backs with a knife while the two were hog-tied on the kitchen floor of the duplex.
During cross-examination by defense attorney Terry Lenamon, Taylor reported that he had been on house arrest at the time of the party and believed the police investigating the murders would cause problems for him if he did not cooperate. He said police threatened him and implied that he would be charged if he did not cooperate, and that he was worried about going to jail.
Lenamon spent part of his questioning pointing out contradictions between Taylor’s testimony today and statements that he had previously given to police and others about the case. This afternoon, Lenamon also grilled the state’s second witness of the day about his testimony compared to earlier dispositions, statements and testimony in earlier trials.
William Arciszewski testified about the rap group the Cash Feenz, what he reportedly saw and heard the night of the birthday party, and his relationship with Johnston. Arciszewski told the jury that Johnston had a gun, that he heard a gunshot while in the bathroom and saw three females – all co-defendants of Johnston – cleaning up the duplex the following morning.
Under Lenamon’s questioning, Arciszewski reported that Johnston was his best friend and that Johnston took him into his home and fed him. He said Johnston allowed a couple of people to live at the duplex, that Johnston’s drug habits changed in the days leading up to the party and that Johnston was worried about his brother’s children, which he helped to support while his brother was in jail.
Testimony and cross-examination continues this 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. Attorney David A. Brener is co-counsel for the defense.
Johnston’s trial began Friday with opening statements after nearly two weeks of jury selection at the Lee County Justice Center in downtown Fort Myers. A 12-member jury was seated, along with two alternate jurors, from those retained from three jury pools.