The murder trial for alleged Cash Feenz defendant Kemar Johnston began this morning with opening statements presented before a 14-member Lee County jury.
Assistant State Attorney Marie Doerr and defense attorney Terry Lenamon described for jurors an October 2006 birthday party that ended with the deaths of 18-year-old Alexis Sosa and 14-year-old Jeffrey Sosa and the arrests of 10 young people charged in connection with the double murder. The prosecution explained that Johnston played a main role in the killings, while the defense argued that he did not, that he had no real reason to hurt 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.
During opening statements, Doerr stated that the Sosas were beaten and tortured at the Cape duplex where Johnston lived and where the birthday party took place. Hog-tied and driven to a north Cape industrial park, the uncle and nephew were then fatally shot and Alexis' body was burned in the trunk of a vehicle.
"You may be asking yourself, 'How in the world do you go from point A to point B?'" Doerr said to jurors, later adding, "This is peer pressure at its ugliest."
Doerr stated that Johnston instructed one person to hog-tie the Sosas and told another to retrieve a Taser to use on the two victims. She said Johnston held a gun on the Sosas during the torture, preventing them from leaving the party and returned to the industrial park after the fatal shootings to burn the body of Alexis - pegging him as a key player in the murders.
Lennon argued that co-defendant Kenneth "Ant" Lopez was the true ringleader, that Lopez even admitted to shooting the Sosas. He explained that others at the party had a greater motive - a drug deal gone bad and acts and threats of violence by Alexis - for harming the Sosas. Lenamon questioned the gun reportedly used in the killings, the identity of the alleged shooter or shooters and the experience of the lead detective.
"What began as a celebration of life ended in a horrible, horrible tragedy," he said. "It's a tragedy that has changed my client's life and (the lives of) many of the teenagers, the adolescents, these young men and women.
"We're going to look at what happened, how the situation evolved into what it evolved into," Lennon said. "We're going to try to seek the truth, try to bring you what we believe are the facts and circumstances that led up to the tragic event of the deaths of these two young men."
After opening statements, the state began calling witnesses to the stand to testify.
Testimony continued in courtroom 8A at the Lee County Justice Center in Fort Myers. Assistant State Attorney Bob Lee is also assigned to the case, and defense attorney David A. Brenner is serving as co-counsel.