Tuesday, July 8, 2008

DA Details Statements by Cuadra & Kerekes

According to the Citizens' Voice, accused killers Harlow Cuadra and Joseph Kerekes made a number of bumbled calculations and incriminating admissions following the January 2007 murder of Bryan Kocis in Dallas Township, prosecutors said in court documents filed Monday.

Cuadra, 26, and Kerekes, 34, both of Virginia Beach, Va., are accused of slashing Kocis’ neck and stabbing his torso nearly 30 times and later setting fire to his Midland Drive home.

According to prosecutors: Cuadra spoke in detail about the killing in a wiretapped conversation with a business associate on a San Diego beach in April 2007; Cuadra and Kerekes shifted an alibi that had put them out of the state at the time of the killing after evidence underminded their original story; and Kerekes told an associate a “hypothetical” version of the events, in which Cuadra pulled up to the Kocis home as it was already engulfed in flames.

“It was quick, he never saw it coming,” Cuadra said, according to a transcript of the wiretapped conversation on Black’s Beach in the La Jolla neighborhood of San Diego.

The prosecutors also detailed witness accounts, which put a vehicle rented by Cuadra at the Kocis home around the time the fire started; video evidence, which showed the two men purchasing weapons at a Virginia Beach pawn shop the day before the killing; and cell phone data, which indicated Cuadra and Kerekes were in Kocis’ neighborhood at the time of the killing.

Cuadra and Kerekes face the death penalty and are scheduled to stand trial together before Court of Common Pleas Judge Peter Paul Olszewski Jr. beginning Sept. 2. A hearing on pre-trial motions is scheduled for 9 a.m. today.

In a telephone conversation recorded by prosecutors, Kerekes told business associate Renee Martin that he planned to fight his incarceration at the Virginia Beach Correctional Facility and eventual extradition to Luzerne County by claiming he was not in Pennsylvania when Kocis was murdered.

“Yea, and the problem being with that is, you gave your photo ID for a hotel some place in Pennsylvania,” Martin told Kerekes, according to a transcript filed by prosecutors.

Kerekes checked into the Fox Ridge Inn in Plains Township with Cuadra on Jan. 23, 2007, and showed a photo identification to the owner, Thakor Patel, prosecutors said. He also indicated to Patel that the vehicle they had arrived in was gray, prosecutors said.

Kocis’ neighbors told prosecutors they saw a silver Nissan Xterra in his driveway on Midland Drive, which dead ends at a cemetery. Cuadra rented a silver Xterra the previous morning from an Enterprise Rent-a-Car office in Virginia Beach, prosecutors said.

Martin suggested in the telephone call that Kerekes and Cuadra cut the fabrication and base their alibi on what actually happened.

“The truth is the best way,” she said.

“Well, that’s what we’ll have to do,” Kerekes said. “But you’ve got to explain the truth to Harlow, that we were, ya know, there.”

After they became disconnected, Kerekes called Martin back and said he wanted to confess the real story of what happened the night Kocis was killed.

“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.”

Prosecutors said that prior to the murder, Cuadra and Kerekes had complained to employees and associates of their pornography business that Cobra Video, a company owned by Kocis, had been impeding their expansion into the “twink market,” a genre of films featuring male actors who appear to be in their late teens or early 20s, with a slight physique and little or no body hair.

Cuadra and Kocis had wanted to recruit actor Sean Lockhart, who appeared under the stage name “Brent Corrigan,” but Lockhart was under contract to work only for Kocis.

Cuadra and Kerekes met with Lockhart and his business partner Grant Roy at the Gay AVN Awards in Las Vegas, the gay pornography equivalent of the Academy Awards, in early January 2007, prosecutors said.

At the time, Lockhart was engaged in a patent lawsuit over the use of the Corrigan stage name. A proposed settlement would have allowed Lockhart to star in movies not involving Cobra Video, in exchange for a payment of 20 percent of the proceeds to Cobra. Cuadra and Kerekes did not want to pay any money to Cobra, prosecutors said.

According to Roy, Cuadra asked:

“What if Bryan left the country?”

“He will only come back,” Lockhart said.

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

“What if Bryan went to Canada?”