RAW FOOTAGE: Death investigation east of Bonita Springs
Lee County Sheriff's Office investigates two bodies ...
A defendant who turned state's witness in a Bonita Springs double homicide is being sought by deputies after he skipped a court appearance.
Robert P. Downey Jr., 31, failed to appear at a Monday status check in his felony accessory-to-murder case, spurring Lee Circuit Judge Edward Volz to issue a bench warrant for the Bonita man's arrest. Downey was on bond following an October plea deal with the state, in which he promised to testify against alleged accomplices in the case.
Detectives say Downey cleaned the crime scene after three men beat and then asphyxiated a pair of alleged drug dealers at a home on Bridgeport Lane in Bonita Springs. The bodies of victims Daniel Leonor, 24, and Israel Ponce, 20, were discovered on Aug. 1 in a burning car off a rural Lee County road.
Downey's attorney, Sebouh Gourjian, said he wasn't concerned his client was in trouble or rethinking the deal. Gourjian said that after he last spoke to Downey on Friday, he expected the defendant to attend the hearing.
"My understanding when I talked to him, he was still willing to go along with the plea agreement," the attorney said. "There was just some personal stuff that I can't discuss."
Gourjian said he's since heard from family and friends that Downey may be in Golden Gate.
The deal, termed an open plea, will trade Downey's cooperation with prosecutors for their recommendation of leniency when Volz finally sentences Downey. Accessory after the fact of second-degree murder carries a maximum 15-year prison sentence.
Gourjian said Downey's disappearance shouldn't affect his deal, so long as he testifies at the right time. The deal is struck between Downey and his prosecutors, Gourjian noted; the court issued the bench warrant.
"Whether he's out or has a bench warrant or what, the bottom line is, as long as he testifies, he's got a deal," the attorney said.
Five other men face charges in the case. Alleged assailants Dustin McIntyre, 21; Lisandro Resendiz; 21; and Colton Lance, 20, face one count of second-degree murder each. McIntyre and Resendiz also face a count each of second-degree arson.
Angel Heredia, 23, and Angel Salinas, 17, both face a count each of accessory after the fact of second-degree murder, the charge to which Downey pled.