Saturday, July 26, 2008

Cuadra Spoke with Two Men on Night Kocis was Killed

The Citizens' Voice is reporting that as accused killer Joseph Kerekes attempted to debunk a theory last year that at least three people participated directly in the killing of Bryan Kocis, he confessed that co-defendant Harlow Cuadra had spoken by telephone the night of the murder with two men who settled a lawsuit with Kocis a week earlier.

Since their arrests in May 2007, Cuadra, 26, and Kerekes, 34, both of Virginia Beach, Va., have conducted more than 8,000 separate telephone conversations with Renee Martin, an acquaintance and former neighbor who has been described by prosecutors as their business associate.

In one conversation, recorded by investigators while Cuadra and Kerekes were being held at the Virginia Beach Correctional Facility, Martin asked Kerekes about the prosecution theory that another person was at Kocis’ Dallas Township home when he was killed in January 2007.

In the 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 been engaged in a patent lawsuit over the use of his stage name, Brent Corrigan. A settlement reached on Jan. 18, 2007 allowed Lockhart to star in movies not involving Cobra Video, in exchange for a payment of 20 percent of the proceeds to Cobra.

“They have three scenarios, OK?” Martin said to Kerekes, according to a transcript of the conversation obtained by The Citizens’ Voice. The transcript has not been released publicly by prosecutors, but versions of it have been posted on an independent Web site dedicated to covering the case.

“Either you and Harlow were there with Brent Corrigan; Brent Corrigan was there with Harlow and Grant Roy; or Grant Roy and Brent Corrigan were there with you,” Martin said.

Kerekes, who has discussed several alibis with Martin in other conversations, including a theory that he was out of the state at the time of the killing and that he was staying at a motel in Plains Township when Cuadra happened upon the crime scene, said Roy and Lockhart were not directly involved, but had spoken to Cuadra by telephone.

“They were on the phone from San Diego with (Kocis), 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.

Cuadra and Kerekes were the only suspects charged in Kocis’ death. They are accused of slashing Kocis’ neck to the point of near decapitation, stabbing his torso nearly 30 times and later setting fire to his Midland Drive, Dallas Township, home. They face the death penalty and are scheduled to stand trial together, beginning Sept. 2.

Early in the investigation, state and federal authorities checked airline and bus manifests, car and hotel reservations and other records in an effort to determine whether Roy and Lockhart were in Pennsylvania on Jan. 24, 2007, the day Kocis was killed.

Roy later worked as an informant for investigators and wore a recording device that captured incriminating comments Cuadra and Kerekes made during a visit to San Diego in April 2007.

During the suppression hearing Thursday, John Pike, an attorney for Kerekes, questioned Roy’s motivation in volunteering as an informant.

Police in Pennsylvania had identified Roy as a possible suspect soon after Kocis’ death, Pike said, and as of last October, the state police still considered him a “known enemy” of Kocis.

Cuadra and Kerekes first met with Roy and Lockhart at the Gay AVN Awards in Las Vegas, the gay pornography equivalent of the Academy Awards, on Jan. 11, 2007, prosecutors said.

According to Roy, Cuadra asked: “What if Bryan left the country?”

“He will only come back,” Lockhart said.

Lockhart had been drinking and did not understand the implied meaning that Cuadra wanted to kill Kocis, Roy said.

“What if Bryan went to Canada?” Cuadra asked.

Kocis was dead less than two weeks later.

Update 07/28/08: The Citizens' Voice has printed a correction to this story: A quote in Saturday’s edition incorrectly identified the person Joseph Kerekes was referring to. The quote should have read: “They were on the phone from San Diego with (Harlow Cuadra), like while this was, while that was happening.”