Sunday, July 27, 2008

DA's Brief Opposing Cuadra's Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus (I. Factual History)

The Defendants in the above-referenced matter are adult individuals currently incarcerated in the Luzerne County Correctional Facility and the Lackawanna County Correctional Facility Defendant Joseph Kerekes is currently lodged in the Luzerne County Correctional Facility. Defendant Harlow Cuadra is currently lodged in the Lackawanna County Correctional Facility. On May 15, 2007, the Defendants were arrested and charged with multiple offenses arising from a criminal homicide which occurred on January 24, 2007 at 60 Midland Drive, Dallas Twp, Luzerne County, Pennsylvania. The victim of the homicide was Bryan Kocis of 60 Midland Drive, Dallas Township, Penna. A preliminary hearing was held on August 20 and 23, 2007 before Honorable James Tupper.

Subsequent to their arrest and during the preliminary hearing, both Defendants were represented by private counsel, Defendant Joseph Kerekes was represented by Frank Nocito, Esq. and Joseph Nocito, Esq. Defendant Harlow Cuadra was represented by William Ruzzo, Esq. and Thomas Cometa, Esq.

At the conclusion of the preliminary hearing, all criminal charges against both Defendants, Joseph Kerekes and Harlow Cuadra, were bound over to the Court of Common Pleas except for the Burglary charges. Those charges were dismissed. Each of the Defendants was arraigned on October 4, 2007 and entered a plea of Not Guilty to the charges of: Criminal Homicide; Criminal Conspiracy to Commit Homicide; Arson-Danger of Death or Bodily Injury; Arson-Inhabited Building or Structure; Robbery Inflict Serious Bodily Injury; Theft by Unlawful Taking-Movable Property; Tamper With/Fabricate Physical Evidence; Abuse of Corpse; Criminal Conspiracy to Commit Robbery; Criminal Conspiracy to Commit Tampering With or Fabricating Physical Evidence; and Criminal Conspiracy to Commit Arson. In addition to the foregoing, Defendant, Harlow R. Cuadra, was charged with Criminal Use of a Communication Facility and that charge was bound over to the Court of Common Pleas. The criminal cases for each defendant were consolidated with each other.

The Commonwealth filed a Notice of Aggravating Circumstances for both defendants on October 1, 2007 indicating its intention to seek the death penalty in the instant matter, Thereafter, the attorneys for each defendant withdrew from their representation of each defendant. At the time of the formal arraignment, Harlow Raymond Cuadra could no longer afford private counsel. The Court then appointed the Luzerne County Public Defender’s Office to represent Harlow Raymond Cuadra. At the time of the formal arraignment, Joseph Manuel Kerekes also could no longer afford private counsel. The Court appointed Luzerne County Conflict Counsel to represent Joseph Manuel Kerekes. Following a pre-trial motion by the Commonwealth, the Public Defender’s Office was removed as defendant Cuadra’s counsel. Cuadra was then assigned court appointed conflict counsel, Attorneys Paul Galante, Michael Senape and Steven

Subsequent to this Harlow Cuadra retained Attorney Demetrius Fannick to represent him and the court appointed conflict counsel filed a motion to be removed from the case. The Commonwealth filed a Motion to Disqualify Attorney Demetrius Fannick from the ease due to a conflict of interest issue. A hearing was held and on March 19, 2007, the Court ruled that Attorney Fannick was disqualified from representing Harlow Cuadra. To this date, Harlow Cuadra is represented by court appointed counsel,
Attorneys Senape, Galante, and Menn.