Monday, February 25, 2008

Witness Testimony At The Preliminary Hearing (Day 2)

On day two of the preliminary hearing for the Defendants, August 27, 2007, the first witness to testify on behalf of the Commonwealth, Grant Roy, positively identified both Defendants. Grant Roy testified in depth about his interaction with the Defendants on Saturday April 28, 2007 at Black's Beach, San Diego, California. This conversation involving Grant Roy, Sean Lockhart, Harlow Cuadra, and Joseph Kerekes was intercepted by a wire.

At the preliminary hearing, Grant Roy testified that Harlow Cuadra described that he was inside Kocis' home on the night of the murder. Cuadra had admitted that he was at the victim's home on the night of the murder "under the guidance or posed to be a model for Bryan Kocis" and prior to Cuadra's arrival at the home, "he and Kerekes had done recon on the house." Cuadra described that Kocis' "front door had two panes of glass that were in the upper portion of the front door, the very upper portion of the front door. And they also made the observation [that] there was no peephole in the front door so the only way Bryan could see who was at the front door was to actually open the front door." Cuadra also described the victim's 65-inch plasma Sony TV and twenty thousand dollar sound system, as well as, "an upstairs bedroom... I think it was a refinished or finished attic with a concave ceiling, and a twin or a small full-size bed".

Cuadra described how the homicide occurred. He stated that he controlled the pouring of alcohol on the bottle of wine that he and the victim were sharing so that the victim drank a majority of the bottle. "He said the doorbell had rang, and at the time Bryan got up, stumbled to the door, and that was it. He said it went quick and [the victim] never saw it coming." Roy futher testified that the motive behind the homicide was money. "It's all about making a buck."

Grant Roy also testified that Cuadra and Kerekes admitted that after the murder, they took three computer towers, two laptops, 2257 business forms, other Cobra Video business records, master tapes and DVD's, business equipment and a Rolex watch with the initial BCK on the back of it from the Kocis residence. Cuadra said there came a time when he and Kerekes incinerated the stolen property because "it was too hot". Cuadra admitted that he and Kerekes viewed the master tapes they had taken from Kocis at their Virginia Beach home. Cuadra was going to give a tape to Sean Lockhart as a gift but did not want to connect himself to the murder, so they incinerated the tapes, as well as, the 2257's and the Rolex watch.

Grant Roy also testified to statements that the Defendant Joseph Kerekes made on April 28, 2007. Kerekes admitted seeing the victim's 65-inch TV and his Maserati in the garage. Roy testified that the Defendant Kerekes indicated that he was in the Kocis home on Wednesday January 24, 2007 and that Kerekes described both the first and second floor of the house. Kerekes also made mention of the stolen property and the destruction of it. Finally, there came a time when the Defendants became more at ease. "They felt that because of the nature of the individual, Mr. Kocis, that he was gay, that the Dallas Police Department and the State of Pennsylvania had put it on the back burner, they weren't really concerned, the went on vacation."

Trooper Brian Murphy from the Pennsylvania State Police Computer Crimes Unit testified at length to his part in the investigation. He obtained computer information about the victim using his website and email addresses, as well as, the webmaster for the victim's website to trace emails sent to the victim. This was due in large part to the information received that a prospective model scheduled to meet the victim on the night of the murder had emailed photos of himself to the victim. There were also "two model applications sent in by an individual indentifying himself as Danny Moilin with an associated email address of"

Trooper Murphy described that an IP address gives us a specific geographical site. "It gives us a specific Internet connection location. There's over four billion possible IP addresses, and no two IP addresses can be connected to the Internet at the same time." He was also able to determine that the model application that was completed and submitted on the victim's website came from an IP address registered to Harlow Cuadra at 1028 Stratem Court, Virginia Beach Virginia. Trooper Murphy also testified to a chain of email correspondences between the victim and the email account. Each of the emails originating from the dmbottompa email account were associated with IP addresses registered to Harlow Cuadra at the 1028 Stratem Court, Virginia Beach, VA address and/or Sprint Nextel Wireless air card registered to Cuadra. Attached to several of the emails were pictures of Harlow Cuadra, who was operating under the ruse that he was "Danny Moilin" who was interested in becoming a model for the victim. The last email confirmed a meeting time between the victim and Cuadra aka Danny Moilin of between 7-8 p.m. on January 24, 2007.

Also, Trooper Murphy testified that he determined that on January 20, 2007, that USA People Search was contacted and a background investigation on the victim, Bryan Kocis was ordered from an IP address associated with Harlow Cuadra at 1028 Stratem Court. The purchase was made on a credit card registered to Harlow Cuadra. This was four days prior to the homicide.

Corporal Leo Hannon of the Pennsylvania State Police was the last witness to testify during the two day preliminary hearing of the Defendants. Cpl. Hannon first testified that he obtained the cell phone records of the Defendant Joseph Kerekes. In reviewing the records of Kerekes' multiple cell phones, it was determined that one cell phone registered to Kerekes placed a call to another cell phone registered to Kerekes at 8:34 p.m. January 24, 2007. The signal from this call bounced off a cell tower located at Country Club Road, Dallas, Pennsylvania which can be seen from the Kocis residence. The fire at the Kocis residence was called in at approximately the same time as Kerekes' cell phone signal bounced off the aforementioned tower.

Next, Cpl. Hannon testified that he contacted the Enterprise Rental Agency on Virginia Beach Boulevard, Virginia Beach. He was able to obtain a rental agreement showing that Harlow Cuadra rented a silver Nissan XTerra on January 23, 2007 and returned the vehicle on January 25, 2007. Cpl. Hannon also analyzed the mileage parameters. It was determined that the roundtrip from Virginia Beach, VA to Dallas, Pennsylvania and back was approximately 770-900 miles depending upon which route was taken. The vehicle could clearly have made the roundtrip.

Next, Cpl. Hannon testified that he had obtained information from Superior Pawn Shop in Virginia Beach, Virginia related to the Defendants. It was determined that the Defendants had purchased weapons with which the Kocis homicide could have been carried out on January 23, 2007. During Cpl. Hannon's testimony a surveillance video from the Superior Pawn Shop from the morning of January 23, 2007 was shown. The video showed, and Cpl. Hannon identified, the Defendants making purchases. Cpl. Hannon then testified to a receipt that he obtained from Superior Pawn Shop for the purchases made by the Defendants. They purchased a Smith & Wesson revolver, ammunition for that firearm and a Sig Arms Model No. FX18G folding knife which had approximately a 5" blade.

Cpl. Hannon also testified to obtaining information on a Trac Phone which was purchased, activated and only utilized to contact the victim. The only calls took place from January 22, 2007 up and until the victim's death. Also, particular phone calls placed from the Trac Phone occured in conjunction with emails between dmbottompa or Danny Moilin email account and the victim's email account. For example, through email correspondence a time was scheduled for "Danny Moilin" to contact the victim. The victim's phone records show that the scheduled phone call came in from the Trac Phone.

Next, Cpl. Hannon was responsible for transporting the Defendant Kerekes back to Pennsylvania after he waived extradition. During that trip, they took the Chesapeake Bay route; route 13 through Delaware, Maryland and subsequently through routes 95 and 476. While they were commencing this trip, Kerekes asked Cpl. Hannon why they "weren't taking the Route 264 West route, as he had taken that route prior to when he had made trips to Pennsylvania."

Cpl. Hannon also testified to his interview with Grant Roy following the encounter on Black's Beach between Roy, Lockhart, Cuadra and Kerekes on April 28, 2007. The Defendants made admissions to Grant Roy about several things, but in particular, they had information "regarding the architecture and contents of the victim's residence, as it related to an entertainment system, plasma TV... that were found in the residence." Also, Cpl. Hannon was able to confirm that "information regarding the victim's watch having been stolen" or information regarding the ingestion of alcohol had not been reported to the public, yet the Defendants were aware of those pieces of evidence.

Finally, Cpl. Hannon testified about the execution of a search warrant upon the Defendants' Virginia Beach residence which was conducted by the Virginia Beach Police Department in conjunction with the PA State Police Investigative Task Force. At that time, the police seized two video recorders which had matched the description previously given by witnesses Michael Kocis and Robert Wagner identified as being missing from Bryan Kocis' residence after his death. The serial numbers on the cameras had been obliterated. The F.B.I. Analyst George Skaluga who will testify at trial and whose anticipated testimony was summerized by Cpl. Hannon, opined that sample film taken through the seized camera is consistent with known video films taken by the victim Kocis.