R. J. Larizza, State Attorney for the Seventh Judicial Circuit, reported to Historic City News that a St. Johns County jury took just over an hour to unanimously recommend the death penalty for defendant Kentrell Johnson; who was convicted at trial last week of the kidnapping and first degree murder of Florida State University graduate student, Vincent Binder.
The victim was taken, robbed, then murdered; Historic City News reporters were at the scene when local officials from the St Johns County Sheriff’s Office and Florida Department of Law Enforcement recovered his mutilated body in a field off SR-16, west of I-95 — two hundred miles away from home.
Surveillance video showed Kentrell Johnson at a convenience store where the victim’s credit card was used. “They executed him in cold blood,” Assistant State Attorney Mark Johnson said in court. “Binder was stabbed at least four times and hacked at least nine times in the back of the head and arms.” The killing was so violent, an expert testified the blows to the head created a hole in the victim’s skull. Assistant State Attorney Jason Lewis joined in the prosecution of the case.
Kentrell Johnson escaped from a Louisiana detention center and went on a crime-spree as he robbed people of their money, credit cards and property. The trail of violence began in Louisiana and extended all the way to south Florida, where he was finally arrested at a Miami motel. Evidence linking Kentrell Johnson to the victim was found in the pick-up truck the men stole, as well as in their motel room. Binder’s blood was found on two pair of jeans; in addition, the victim’s blood and DNA were found on a knife.
There were three co-defendants in this crime spree. Co-defendant Quentin Truehill has already been convicted and sentenced to death earlier this year. Co-defendant Peter Hughes entered a plea as charged to First Degree Murder and Kidnapping and received a sentence of life without the possibility of parole. This plea was determined to be the best course of action based upon issues concerning Hughes’ intellectual disabilities.
A Spencer hearing will be set, a date has not been announced.