Another co-defendant takes stand in Cash Feenz murder trial
Another person who attended an October 2006 birthday party in Cape Coral that ended in the deaths of two teens took the stand this morning to testify in day five of the double murder trial against Kemar Johnston.
Alexis Sosa, 18, and his nephew, 14-year-old Jeffrey Sosa, were reportedly hog-tied, beaten and tortured at a Cape Coral duplex where the party was held. They were then driven to an industrial park in the north Cape, where they were fatally shot and Alexis’ body was placed in the truck of a car and set on fire. Emergency units responding to a call about a possible fire discovered the car in flames and Jeffrey’s body lying nearby.
Michael James Balint, a co-defendant in the case who pleaded out to a lesser sentence in exchange for his testimony, told the jury this morning that he and a friend went to the party to purchase marijuana. Upon arriving, Balint saw Alexis on the floor of the kitchen and Jeffrey in the corner. Johnston handed Balint shoelaces and told him to tie up Alexis, but he did not tie up Jeffrey because he was not asked to.
Balint said he and his friend left soon afterward with the marijuana they bought.
Balint pleaded guilty to two counts of kidnapping for 14 years in prison. He originally was also charged with two counts of aggravated battery with a deadly weapon, charges dropped by the state in the plea deal for his testimony in the case.
Under cross-examination by defense attorney Terry Lenamon, Balint testified that he had been drinking, smoking and taking pills on the day leading up to the party. He said he and his friend went to strip club in Port Charlotte and left before closing to head for the party. Balint said he gave Johnston Xanax pills at the party from a pill bottle in his possession.
Balint told the jury that about 15 months had passed between the party and when police picked him up on a warrant connected to the case. He said he did not know officers were looking for him, though Balint remembered what happened at the party and what he did.
“If they wanted me, they would have arrested me with everyone else, I figured,” he said.
Under questioning by Lenamon, Balint testified that he asked for a lawyer but detectives continued with their questioning and did not get him one. Detectives convinced Balint it was in his best interest to cooperate and provide police with a statement. Balint agreed that he was also threatened by the detectives.
Johnston, 23, was one of 10 people charged in connection to the homicides. He faces two counts each of first-degree murder, kidnapping and aggravated battery with a deadly weapon. If Johnston is convicted, he faces life in prison without parole or death.
The trial continues at the Lee County Justice Center in Fort Myers before 20th Judicial Circuit Judge Thomas S. Reese. Assistant State Attorneys Bob Lee and Marie Doerr are prosecuting the case, and David A. Brener is serving as co-counsel for the defense.