Kierra Russ found guilty of second-degree murder, conspiracy in Club Blu mass shooting

Reporter: Emma Heaton
Published: Updated:
Kierra Russ reacts to her conviction in the first of five Club Blu trials. (CREDIT: WINK News)

Kierra Russ has been convicted of second-degree murder and conspiracy in the Club Blu trial.

Deliberations began just after 12 p.m. on Tuesday following a week-long trial that was almost disrupted after its lead prosecutor was found dead in his home over the weekend. Anthony William Kunasek was not murdered, according to authorities.

However, the trial continued.

Deliberations lasted for about two hours.

Russ is the first of five defendants to face a jury in the 2016 mass shooting that killed two teens after a teen party in Fort Myers.

The shooting injured 14 others and claimed the lives of 18-year-old Stef’An Strawder and Sean Archilles, 14.

Stefan Strawder, 18, and Sean Archilles, 14, who died at Club Blu in 2016. Photo via WINK News.
Stefan Strawder, 18, and Sean Archilles, 14, who died at Club Blu in 2016. Photo via WINK News.

Awaiting trial are Tajze Battle, Derrick Church, Don Loggins and Demetrius O’Neal.

Russ faces second-degree murder and conspiracy. While Russ did not fire a gun that night, she is accused of working as a lookout and text messaging the others about the rival gang members at the party.

The mass shooting was a culmination of a feud between two Fort Myers gangs, the Bottom Boys and 1Way, prosecutors said.

Defense attorneys said Russ was just a performer and walked out of the club to bullets.

Russ cried out as she was taken away by bailiffs.

Russ’ family stormed out of the courtroom after the verdict was read.

“Everybody reacts differently. And I think there’s a misconception that if someone doesn’t pull a trigger, then they didn’t really have an active part. And that was always a question and issue in this trial, and something that state had to prove. And so as a principal, even though she wasn’t one of the shooters, she played a role, and the jury found that and we proved that today,” said State Prosecutor Sara Miller.

Russ’ defense attorney Douglas Molloy declined to comment.

Russ will be sentenced at the beginning of June.

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