Friday, August 8, 2008

Similar Alibis Don’t Require Separate Trials, Prosecutors Say

According to an article in the Citizens' Voice... The similarity of the alibis being considered by accused killers Harlow Cuadra and Joseph Kerekes cannot be used as grounds for a defense motion to have them tried separately, prosecutors argued in a brief filed Thursday.

Attorneys for Cuadra and Kerekes have said the defendants could both claim they were in Room 211 at the Fox Ridge Motel in Plains Township motel the night Bryan Kocis was killed in January 2007 in Dallas Township, 12 miles away.

Cuadra, 27, and Kerekes, 34, both of Virginia Beach, Va., are accused of killing Kocis 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.

Michael Senape, an attorney for Cuadra, disclosed the possible alibi last month in a closed-door meeting with Judge Peter Paul Olszewski Jr., prosecutors and the other defense attorneys on the case. Kerekes’ attorneys made a similar alibi claim in a notice filed in January.

Both defense teams suggested in a brief filed Wednesday that the similar alibis, combined with a deteriorating relationship between Cuadra and Kerekes, will lead to competing, antagonistic defenses at trial.

“The jury will have no choice but to disbelieve the testimony offered on behalf of one of the defendants in order to believe the testimony offered on behalf of the other defendant,” the defense attorneys said.

Cuadra and Kerekes had previously agreed to an alibi defense they referred to as “Plan B,” according to telephone conversations recorded while they were imprisoned at the Virginia Beach Correctional Facility.

Under “Plan B,” Kerekes claimed he stayed at the Fox Ridge Inn sending e-mail messages and viewing Web sites while Cuadra went to visit Kocis. Kerekes said Cuadra arrived at Kocis’ home after it had already been broken into and set on fire. Cuadra drove back to the motel, they packed quickly and fled to Virginia Beach, Kerekes said.

“In this case, Cuadra’s and Kerekes’ alibi defenses are consistent,” prosecutors said. “Neither defendant is pointing the finger at the other. Neither defendant is saying the other committed any crime whatsoever.”