Kemar Johnston, sits in the courtroom during his trial, Tuesday (1-26-10).Johnston is charged with two counts each of first-degree murder in the 2006 killings of Alexis Sosa, 18, and his nephew Jeffrey, 14. / Marc Beaudin/news-press.com
Dahowski closed out the day with testimony mainly about photos and analysis at the house of partygoer Donteavious Overmyer.
He said crime scene technicians spent hours at Overmyer's 9th Avenue house, swabbing door knobs, washing machines and sinks for evidence. He testified he wasn't sure if that evidence was sent to the FDLE lab.
Dahowski also testified about photos of Dr. Pepper cans found at Overmyer's house and found at the scene where the Sosas were killed.
Dahowski testified the can found at the scene wasn't sent to the lab for DNA testing.
Reese said he hopes attorneys will give their closing arguments Thursday afternoon or perhaps Friday morning.
"Once the jury gets the case, the jury must be sequestered," he said.
He said the jury will have to deliberate over the weekend.
"Plan on bringing a suitcase," he told them.
4:19 p.m. update
McCaslin testified about photos of Dr. Pepper cans, which were objected to by the state several times.
It's unclear what the significance of the photos are, but based on previous testimony and questioning, it appears the defense is trying to show that partygoer Donteavious Overmyer, who allegedly punched Alex Sosa at the duplex, was at the industrial park where the Sosas were killed.
Now on the stand is Cape Coral Police forensic technician John Dahowski.
3:58 p.m. update
The defense is moving quickly this afternoon.
Lauer testified about photos taken at the industrial park, which were shown to jurors.
Private investigator Ray McCaslin, an investigator hired by the defense, is now on the stand.
3:52 p.m. update
Ellis testified soil samples from Johnston's purple Cadillac were collected, but weren't compared to soil samples found at the industrial park.
Greenwell, who previously testified for the state, was called to introduce a photo of a bullet fragment and Cape Coral Fire Lt. Brian Lauer, the state's first witness, is on the stand.
2:56 p.m. update
Lee Circuit Judge Thomas Reese denied Brener's motion for a judgment of acquittal.
He also denied Brener's outstanding motion for a mistrial.
Brener has several witnesses to present, which he will do after about a 15-minute break.
2:52 p.m. update
After jurors were taken out of the courtroom, Brener argued for a directed judgment of acquittal, a common motion filed by defense attorneys after the state rests its case. They are routinely denied by judges.
Brener is asking Lee Circuit Judge Thomas Reese to dismiss charges against Johnston because the state failed to prove the elements of the crime. He said he doesn't believe the state has proven the killings were premeditated.
He also renewed his previous motions, including his motion for a mistrial.
Assistant State Attorney Bob Lee argued that Johnston telling a co-defendant to give Alex Sosa his "last drink of water" shows the killings were premeditated.
He then argued reasons why the state has proven the other charges against Johnston.
2:44 p.m. update
After extensive questioning about bullet markings and how they are identified, Greenwell is now off the stand.
The state has rested its case.
2:11 p.m. update
Greenwell testified that another state's exhibit — several bullets found at the scene — weren't submitted for testing.
He said bullets submitted for testing could eliminate other weapons as being used and can be swabbed for blood or tissue.
"I would always err on the side of submitting it," he said. "It could have some impact, I guess, on results."
1:27 p.m. update
Greenwell is back on the stand after the lunch break.
He is testifying about bullet cartridges and whether they were fired from either of the three weapons found by police in connection with this case.
12:02 p.m. update
Greenwell testified he test-fired three guns in this case — a .22-caliber, .380-caliber and 9mm.
The court is now taking an hour lunch break.
11:35 a.m. update
The state's next witness is Justin Greenwell, a crime lab supervisor for the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
In 2006, he was a firearms analyst for FDLE.
He will be the state's last witness of this case.
10:55 a.m. update
Beth Ordeman, a DNA tester from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement's Tampa crime lab, testified a bloody comforter and sheet found at the industrial park matched the DNA of Alexis Sosa.
She testified she was given a Dr. Pepper soda can found at the scene for testing, but it didn't match Kemar Johnston's DNA or any other DNA comparisons she was given by Cape Coral Police.
When asked by defense attorney David Brener, she said she wasn't given Donteavious Overmyer's DNA for comparison to the soda can. There was previous testimony about other Dr. Pepper soda cans found at Overmyer's house in Fort Myers.
10:14 a.m. update
After an hour of arguing several topics, the jury is now in the courtroom.
The state's first witness of the day is Beth Ordeman from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
9:50 a.m. update
Lee Circuit Judge Thomas Reese won't allow the defense's photos of the duplex into the trial because they were given to the state too late.
"The main problem I have is they have been not been disclosed," he said. "There is a blatant discovery violation."
Lee objected to the photos, saying the duplex had additional furniture, tile on the floors and wall decorations in the year after the crime, which changes the appearance of the house. But Brener argued he only wanted to use the photos to show the dimensions of the house, not what's hanging on the wall.
The state's last two witnesses of the trial will be on the stand shortly.
9:14 a.m. update
With two witnesses left in the trial, attorneys are arguing this morning about whether the defense can present a witness and photos.
Johnston defense attorneys gave prosecutors a witness and exhibit list yesterday afternoon, which prosecutors are objecting to being admitted in this case.
Typically, attorneys provide a list of witnesses and exhibits before the trial starts.
In this case, Johnston attorney David Brener said the witness — an investigator — and photos of Johnston's duplex, which he says the state already has, should be allowed.
Assistant State Attorney Bob Lee, though, argued he has never seen the photos, taken in October 2007, more than two years before the trial started, but not introduced into evidence until three weeks into the trial.
From this morning on news-press.com
The pace of Kemar Johnston’s murder trial is picking up and the case may go to the jury by Wednesday or Thursday, according to attorneys.
Johnston, 23, is charged with first-degree murder in the October 2006 killings of Alexis Sosa, 18, and his nephew, Jeffrey Sosa, 14, in Cape Coral. He is also charged with kidnapping and aggravated battery in the case and faces the death penalty.
The prosecution may rest its case today following the testimony of two expert witnesses, attorneys said.
The defense will then present witnesses, but Johnston most likely will not testify, said defense attorney Terence Lenamon. He said the defense may also finish today. The case would go to the jury following closing arguments by attorneys and instructions to the jury on the law by the judge.
Most of the trial Monday focused on the testimony of co-defendant Paul Nunes, 21, who has pleaded guilty to two counts of second-degree murder, kidnapping and aggravated battery in exchange for 40 years in prison.
Nunes said that he saw Johnston hit Alex Sosa with his fist and a gun.
That happened after a threatening message was played by speakerphone in the kitchen of Johnston’s apartment in Cape Coral, where he was having a birthday party, Nunes said.
Nunes said another defendant, Michael Balint, 22, “hog tied” the hands and feet of both Sosas behind their backs.
He said he also saw another defendant, Melissa Rivera, 23, zap Alex Sosa with a Taser.
Nunes said he heard a gunshot from the kitchen where the beatings took place and saw several people were looking at the Sosas, who were lying on the floor.
Nunes said the people at the party, including Johnston, later got into three cars — with the Sosas bound in one of the trunks — and drove to a Cape Coral industrial park.
There, he heard seven to 10 shots, Nunes said. He said he saw a body lying on the ground and someone shooting at the ground, but he couldn’t recall who that was.
Nunes said that another defendant, Kenneth Lopez, 21, said he shot both Sosas in the head. Lopez’s trial is scheduled for May 17.