Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Prosecution Wants Escort Service Included in Murder Trial

Luzerne County Prosecution

The Citizens Voice is reporting the following in regards to yesterday's motions filed:

Harlow Raymond Cuadra and Joseph Manuel Kerekes are accused of slashing and stabbing Bryan Kocis inside his Midland Drive home and then torching the house to cover up the crime. Prosecutors filed a number of motions in the case Tuesday seeking to enter evidence in the case and prevent the lovers and business partners from bringing up Kocis’ past crimes in trial.

Cuadra and Kerekes planned to eliminate their competition to fuel the expansion of their “fledgling” pornography business, prosecutors allege. The district attorney’s office is asking Luzerne County Judge Peter Paul Olszewski Jr. for permission to present evidence about Cuadra and Kerekes’ business dealings during their trial.

“Specifically, the evidence of the defendants’ male escort and pornography business clearly shows and demonstrates that both defendants viewed Cobra Video, the company owned by the victim, as their main rival and their whole object was to form a plan to rub out Bryan Kocis and secure the services of Sean Lockhart, the star of Cobra Video,” the prosecution argues in one motion.

Kocis owned and operated Cobra Video, a lucrative pornography production business, from his home.

Harlow Cuadra and Joseph Kerekes

Cuadra, 26, and Kerekes, 33, remain jailed until their trial, which is tentatively scheduled for March 28. Potential appeals of motions filed Tuesday could delay the case indefinitely.

The district attorney’s office is seeking the death penalty against both men. Kerekes’ attorney, John Pike, and Cuadra’s public defenders, attorneys Jonathan Blum and Bill Ruzzo, could not be reached for comment Tuesday night.

As for the motions, the district attorney’s office also wants to tell jurors about Cuadra and Kerekes’ alleged attempts to provide false alibis to deflect blame in the case.

“Their plan to commit murder did not end with homicide, but continued thereafter when they attempted to cover up their crime by soliciting individuals to provide law enforcement investigators with false information as to where Defendant Harlow Raymond Cuadra was on Jan. 24, 2007 (the day of Kocis’ death),” prosecutors argue in another motion.

Kocis’ guilty plea to a corruption of minors charge also has no bearing on Cuadra and Kerekes’ case, according to prosecutors. They want to prevent Cuadra and Kerekes’ attorneys from telling jurors about Kocis’ 2001 arrest for having sex with a 15-year-old boy he met online, according to Luzerne County court documents.

Prosecutors accepted Kocis’ plea, agreeing the boy had lied about his age and the teenager and his family said they wanted to avoid trial.

Because the prosecution is seeking the death penalty, the district attorney’s office wants an independent psychologist to interview Cuadra and Kerekes. The prosecution also wants to review any defense psychological reports prior to the penalty phase, should either man be convicted of first-degree murder.