Thursday, August 7, 2008

Prosecutors ask PPO to Not Allow Possible Alibi for Cuadra

Today's Citizens' Voice is reporting that prosecutors filed a motion Wednesday asking Luzerne County Judge Peter Paul Olszewski Jr. to preclude attorneys for accused killer Harlow Cuadra from presenting evidence and witnesses to corroborate his possible alibi.

In a notice of possible alibi filed last month, Cuadra’s attorneys, Stephen Menn and Michael Senape, said Cuadra, 27, of Virginia Beach, Va., could claim he was in Room 211 of the Fox Ridge Motel in Plains Township at the time Bryan Kocis was killed in Dallas Township in January 2007.

Under state law, Cuadra’s attorneys were required to file the alibi notice on May 16, at the same time they submitted a series of omnibus pre-trial motions, including requests to suppress evidence, move the location of the trial and separate Cuadra’s trial from that of his co-defendant, Joseph Kerekes, prosecutors said.

“Based on the defendant’s untimely filing of his notice of alibi defense, the Commonwealth asks this court to exclude entirely any other evidence offered by the defendant for the purpose of providing an alibi defense at trial, except for the defendant’s own testimony,” prosecutors said, citing the section of the Pennsylvania Rules of Criminal Procedure that allows judges latitude to limit alibi defenses.

Cuadra and Kerekes, 34, also of Virginia Beach, Va., are accused of killing Kocis, a rival producer of gay pornographic films, 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. Olszewski said he could rule on pre-trial motions within a week.

Kerekes’ attorneys, Shelley Centini and John Pike, filed a similar alibi notice in January and listed potential witnesses from Internet companies to support a theory that he stayed at the motel, sending e-mail messages and viewing Web sites, while Cuadra visited Kocis.

Neither notice indicated Cuadra and Kerekes were together at the motel.

Cuadra’s one-page notice listed no witnesses who could potentially corroborate his alibi story, but the attorneys said they reserved the right to list witnesses on future supplemental filings.

“Given the approaching start date of trial, the Commonwealth would not have sufficient time to investigate the defendant’s witnesses, given the late filing of the notice,” the prosecutors argued.

Late Wednesday, prosecutors filed a list of 93 prospective witnesses they could call to rebut Cuadra’s alibi defense, including investigators, neighbors who said they saw a vehicle rented by Cuadra leaving Kocis’ driveway just before the fire was called into 911, and two men who had settled a lawsuit with Kocis a week before his death.

In a prison telephone conversation with acquaintance Renee Martin, Kerekes said the men, Grant Roy, a former suspect in the killing, and his business partner and lover, Sean Lockhart, had spoken to Cuadra by telephone as he was killing Kocis.

“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.