Thursday, July 31, 2008

Cuadra, Kerekes Mull Similar Alibis

Harlow Cuadra

The Citizens' Voice reports that Attorneys for Harlow Cuadra said Wednesday the accused killer might claim he was at a Plains Township motel the night Bryan Kocis was killed in Dallas Township in January 2007 — the same potential alibi defense being considered by co-defendant Joseph Kerekes.

In Cuadra’s notice of alibi defense, filed Wednesday after the conclusion of a multi-part hearing on evidence suppression, and Kerekes’ alibi notice, filed in January, both defendants claim they were in Room 211 at the Fox Ridge Motel, about 12 miles from Kocis’ Midland Drive home.

Neither notice said if Cuadra or Kerekes would claim they were in the room together at the time of the killing, though Kerekes has indicated to Renee Martin, an acquaintance and former neighbor who has been described by prosecutors as their business associate, that he stayed at the motel while Cuadra went to visit Kocis.

The conflicting alibi accounts could bolster a defense argument, made at a previous suppression hearing, that Cuadra and Kerekes should be tried separately. A growing rift between the former lovers and business partners could jeopardize their defense if they are tried together, as prosecutors have advocated, the attorneys said.

Kerekes, 34, and Harlow Cuadra, 26, both of Virginia Beach, Va., are accused of slashing the neck of Kocis, a rival producer of gay pornographic films, to the point of near decapitation, stabbing his torso nearly 30 times and later setting fire to his home. They face the death penalty and are scheduled to stand trial together, beginning Sept. 2.

Kerekes discussed several possible alibis with Martin, including a disproved theory that he was not in Pennsylvania at the time. Kerekes mentioned the Fox Ridge Motel in a hypothetical situation he described for her during one telephone conversation while an inmate at the Virginia Beach Correctional Facility.

“Can I tell you exactly what happened or should I, should I keep my mouth shut?” Kerekes said.

Martin suggested Kerekes tell the story in a hypothetical form.

“OK, once upon a time there was a gay escort couple that, ya know, once upon a time that thought maybe working with this movie producer would be good, where as he, you know, he had access to other young stars that would enhance one of the two’s career, so they set up an appointment to meet.”

Kerekes said one of the men went to meet the producer while the other stayed at a hotel that had been rented. The hypothetical story matches up to Cuadra visiting Kocis and Kerekes staying at the Fox Ridge Inn, prosecutors said.

“When he approached the home, obviously there had been an intrusion, and the door was open, hypothetically and supposedly then, he found what was there, and he, supposedly and hypothetically, ran and came back to the older one, which was in the hotel and they were scared.”

Cuadra ordered an online background check of Kocis days before the murder, sent e-mail messages and photographs to Kocis, placed telephone calls to him on a cell phone purchased and used only to call Kocis, and rented a vehicle that was seen by witnesses in Kocis’ driveway around the time of the killing, prosecutors said.

In another telephone conversation, Martin alluded to the possibility Grant Roy, a former suspect in the killing who testified at an evidence suppression hearing Thursday, and his business partner and former lover, Sean Lockhart, had been at Kocis’ home.

Lockhart had acted in gay pornographic films produced by Kocis’ company, Cobra Video.

He and Roy had settled a lawsuit with Kocis on Jan. 18, 2007, allowing Lockhart to star in movies not involving Cobra Video, in exchange for a payment of 20 percent of the proceeds to Cobra.

Kerekes said Roy and Lockhart were not directly involved, but had spoken to Cuadra by telephone.

“They were on the phone from San Diego with (Cuadra), like while this was, while that was happening,” Kerekes told Martin.

“While the murder was happening?” Martin said.

“Yes,” Kerekes said. “(Investigators) know that Grant and Brent weren’t there.”

“They were on the phone with him while the murdering was happening?”

“Yes, that’s all knowledge, everyone knows,” Kerekes said.