Friday, August 1, 2008

PPO to Decide Within 2 Weeks...

The Citizens' Voice reports that Luzerne County Judge Peter Paul Olszewski Jr. said Wednesday he would likely rule within the next two weeks on defense requests to exclude potentially incriminating evidence from the capital murder case against Harlow Cuadra and Joseph Kerekes, including e-mail messages, recorded conversations and items seized from the accused killers’ Virginia Beach, Va., home.

At the same time, Olszewski will consider a defense motion to hold separate trials for Cuadra and Kerekes — a request bolstered Wednesday by a possible alibi defense submitted by Cuadra’s attorneys that conflicts with a potential alibi filed by Kerekes in January.

At trial, both men could claim they were in the same room at a Plains Township motel at the time Bryan Kocis was killed in Dallas Township in January 2007, but Kerekes has said he was in the room alone while Cuadra visited Kocis, a rival producer of gay pornographic films.

Cuadra, 26, and Kerekes, 34, both of Virginia Beach, Va., 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 home. They face the death penalty and are scheduled to stand trial together, beginning Sept. 2.

The e-mail messages and other evidence the attorneys are asking be blocked from use during the trial contradict the potential alibis and show a series of premeditated events leading to the killing.

The e-mail messages, obtained through six search warrants from Jan. 30, 2007, to Aug. 27, 2007, show Cuadra established communication with Kocis on Jan. 22, two days before his death.

Cuadra wrote to Kocis posing as an inexperienced pornographic film actor named “Danny Moilin.” He created an e-mail address on Jan. 22, 2007, solely to contact Kocis, prosecutors said.

Prosecutors said Cuadra created the Moilin character as a ruse to gain a private meeting with Kocis, 46, who led a nearly reclusive life.

“Umm can we please be alone,” Cuadra wrote in a message dated Jan. 23. “At least this first time. Thanks. Danny.”

“We’ll be alone, no worries,” Kocis responded.

Cuadra sent Kocis photographs of himself, tying him to the Moilin character, and ordered an online background check of Kocis days before the murder, prosecutors said.

Cuadra also called Kocis on a cell phone purchased and used to call only Kocis, and rented a vehicle that was seen by witnesses in Kocis’ driveway around the time of the killing, prosecutors said.

Attorneys for Cuadra said the search warrants used to obtain the e-mail messages, from Yahoo, Excite and Myspace, were granted without sufficient probable cause.

The attorneys have also asked that Olszewski suppress an interview investigators conducted with Kerekes at the headquarters of the Virginia Beach Police Department shortly after his arrest, and conversations between Cuadra, Kerekes and acquaintances Grant Roy and Sean Lockhart recorded in San Diego in April 2007.

Kerekes claimed investigators ignored his request for an attorney at the start of the interview.

The attorneys questioned the validity of the San Diego conversations because they said Roy, who volunteered to wear a recording device, had originally been identified as a suspect in Kocis’ death.

Kocis had, until days before his death, been locked in a lawsuit with Roy and Lockhart, a pornographic actor who starred in films for Kocis, over Lockhart’s ability to work for other companies using his stage name, Brent Corrigan.

“It was quick. He never saw it coming,” Cuadra said, according to transcripts of the San Diego conversations.

“Actually seeing that (expletive) go down,” Cuadra said later in the transcript, allegedly referring to Kocis. “It’s actually sick, but it made me feel better inside.”