Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Judge Grants Witness Bail in Kocis Murder Case

As I mentioned yesterday, the Citizens' Voice has also picked up the story today, and offers a little more information:

Luzerne County Judge Peter Paul Olszewski Jr. on Tuesday granted a prosecution request to establish bail for a Texas woman they plan to use as a material witness in their capital murder case against Harlow Cuadra and Joseph Kerekes.

Renee Marie Martin of Fort Worth, Texas, is a business associate of Cuadra and Kerekes and maintained contact with both defendants after their arrest for the killing of Bryan Kocis in Dallas Township in January 2007, prosecutors said.

Martin established and participated in three-way telephone conversations with Cuadra and Kerekes and heard “incriminating statements” they made during those calls, prosecutors said.

Cuadra, 26, and Kerekes, 34, both of Virginia Beach, Va., are scheduled to go on trial before Olszewski on Sept. 2.

The prosecutors, Luzerne County District Attorney Jackie Musto Carroll, deputy district attorney Tim Doherty, and assistant district attorneys Michael Melnick and Shannon Crake, said they asked for bail for Martin because she lives out of state and “represents a flight risk.”

Olszewski established a $50,000 unsecured bail for Martin and ordered her to maintain weekly contact with state police.

Update 9:05 PM: A source familiar with Renee's recent visit to Pennsylvania, tells me that she was quite cooperative with the District Attorney's office ("basically sang like a bird") for the 2 days she was there, and that she is considered to be a very vital witness for the prosecution in this case:

"Renee Marie Martin's testimony is material for the following reasons: (1) she will provide substantial and important information about the defendants and their actions, and (2) she was privy to the conversations between the defendants."

"Renee Marie Martin's testimony is material to help establish certain elements of the criminal charges currently pending against the Defendants"

... more to come...

Update 06/05/08: The Timesleader covers the story today as well, much of it the same information as the Citizens' Voice, but there are a few additional details:

A Texas woman who prosecutors say has been running the business of homicide suspects Harlow Cuadra and Joseph Kerekes while the two are incarcerated could be a witness in the men’s trial.

Luzerne County Court of Common Pleas Judge Peter Paul Olszewski Jr. granted a request Tuesday to establish bail for Renee Marie Martin, of Fort Worth.

The bail is to ensure Martin cooperates with investigators and testifies; she is not charged with any crimes.

Prosecutors say Martin arranged for both Cuadra and Kerekes to talk to one another via three-way conference calls and participated in conversations.

Luzerne County District Attorney Jacqueline Musto Carroll and Assistant District Attorneys Tim Doherty, Shannon Crake and Michael Melnick say Cuadra and Kerekes made incriminating statements during the conversations, which Martin heard.

Martin’s husband contacted the Pennsylvania State Police in Wyoming earlier this year and agreed to be interviewed by telephone. Meanwhile, inmates at the Virginia Beach Correctional Facility told investigators Martin runs the two defendants’ business out of her Forth Worth home while they are in jail awaiting trial.

Kerekes and Cuadra were previously held in the Virginia Beach lockup before they were brought to Northeastern Pennsylvania.

Prosecutors requested bail for Martin because they believe she could be a flight risk, and they have been unsuccessful in the past in attempts to meet with her.

Prosecutors said Martin’s testimony is needed because she has been and still is the manager for Kerekes and Cuadra’s business; she can provide substantial and important information about the defendants and their actions, and she was privy to the conversations between the two defendants.

Prosecutors requested bail to guarantee Martin’s appearance at all court proceedings. Martin’s unsecured bail was set at $50,000.

Martin must maintain weekly contact with a state police trooper; provide prosecutors with all appropriate telephone numbers; maintain a permanent address, and appear to testify in all court appearances.