Attorney alleges misconduct in Punta Gorda 7-11 killing investigation

PUNTA GORDA, Fla. Misconduct alleged by attorneys for a man accused of killing a 7-11 employee, if substantiated, could determine if key evidence can be used during trial.

Attorney Mark DeSisto claimed in a motion filed this week that prosecutors and detectives fed information to confidential jail informants to help their case against his client, Michael Russo.

His claim centers around testimony by Mitchell Brooks, who told state investigators that while he and Russo were in jail last year, he asked why someone would burn a body.

“And under his breath, I mean in a very, very silent way of speaking, he said, ‘My rage,’” Brooks said.

DeSisto argued that Brooks fabricated his testimony in exchange for an early release from jail.

It’s a claim that will be tough to prove, said attorney Lance Dunford, who is not associated with the case.

“The burden is on the defense to prove these allegations,” he said. “It’s not the state attorney’s job to defend the misconduct, they have to show the basis for it.”

Russo, 29, is charged with second-degree murder and first-degree arson in the death of 18-year-old Kyle Farishian, who was found dead following a fire at the 7-Eleven at Bal Harbor Boulevard and Aqui Esta Drive in November 2015.

Russo has entered a not guilty plea.

Prosecutors on Friday also entered photos of latex gloves found inside Russo’s trash following the killing.

Surveillance video showed a masked person wearing latex gloves while shooting and killing Farishian.

Russo’s murder trial is expected to start at the end of May.

DeSisto’s motion is expected to be heard on May 22.

Reporter:Lauren Sweeney