Trial to continue for Punta Gorda murder suspect

Published: Updated:
Michael J Russo (Photo courtesy of the Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office)

PUNTA GORDA, Fla. The trial for a 29-year-old man accused of killing a 7-Eleven employee and setting him on fire continues Thursday morning.

Michael Russo faces second-degree murder and first-degree arson charges after 18-year-old Kyle Farishian’s scorched remains were found in a November 2015 fire at the convenience store at the intersection of Bal Harbor Boulevard and Aqui Esta Drive.

Surveillance footage was shown in court Wednesday of Farishian being shot twice and his body being doused in gasoline and set on fire.

Assistant State attorney Shannon Doolity told the jury Russo was banned from the convenience store after having two confrontations with an employee.

“This wasn’t a robbery, this was personal,” Doolity said.

Farishian’s parents testified Wednesday as Mark Farishian described his relationship with his son.

“We were best friends,” Mark said.

However, Mark DeSisto, Russo’s attorney, told the six jurors and three alternates that Russo did not commit the crime.

“They found no murder weapon,” DeSisto said. “They found no blood evidence, no fire evidence, no DNA evidence. Nothing scientific to tie Mr. Russo to this murder.”

The trial resumes at 8:30 a.m.

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