PUNTA GORDA, Fla. A jury convicted a 29-year-old man Thursday of second-degree murder and first-degree arson in the 2015 death of a 7-Eleven worker.
Michael Russo was charged with killing 18-year-old Kyle Farishian, whose remains were found following a November 2015 fire at the convenience store on Bal Harbor Boulevard and Aqui Esta Drive. Russo faces up to life in prison when he is sentenced July 17, the state attorney’s office said.
Russo sat straight-faced as the verdict was read. Farishian’s family made a brief statement, expressing a sense of relief, and left quickly.
Farishian’s mother shed tears last week as surveillance footage that appeared to show the murder was shown in court. Seven surveillance videos were key to identifying Russo as a suspect, according to a Punta Gorda Police Department detective who testified during the nearly two-week trial.
The defense, which plans to appeal, argued all the prosecution’s evidence was circumstantial and that no DNA or other scientific evidence pinned Russo to the crime.
The six-person jury, composed of two men and four women, deliberated for nearly six and a half hours beginning Wednesday after closing arguments.