Monday, September 22, 2008

Harlow & Joe's Suppression of Evidence...

The Citizen's Voice is reporting that a hearing on the suppression of evidence in the capital murder case against Joseph Kerekes was halted Monday to give attorneys for co-defendant Harlow Cuadra an opportunity to join the proceeding.

Luzerne County Judge Peter Paul Olszewski Jr. ordered prosecutors to provide Cuadra’s attorneys, Michael Senape and Stephen Menn, with all of the suppression-related evidence and documents they previously shared with Kerekes’ attorneys, John Pike and Shelley Centini.

Olszewski said he would allow Cuadra’s attorneys 10 days to review the material and consider filing their own motion or joining Kerekes’ request to suppress evidence seized from the vehicle he and Cuadra were riding in when they were arrested.

Kerekes’ attorneys argued items seized from the BMW M5 sedan he and Cuadra were in at the time of their arrest in May 2007 — including a knife and laptop computer — were obtained outside the scope of a warrant granted for a separate investigation into their business practices.

Olszewski halted the suppression hearing about an hour after it began, following the testimony of Matthew P. Childress, a Virginia Beach police detective who had been investigating Cuadra and Kerekes for money laundering, racketeering and other charges related to their operation of a male escort service that allegedly doubled as a prostitution ring.

The money laundering investigation continued as Pennsylvania authorities closed in on Cuadra and Kerekes for the Kocis killing, Childress said. Childress obtained a warrant on May 14 and, the next day, executed a search on the home where Cuadra and Kerekes lived at 1028 Stratem Court, Virginia Beach, Va., and vehicles parked on the adjacent property.

Cuadra and Kerekes left before the search and were stopped a short time later by police on Virginia Beach Boulevard, about five miles away. They were taken into custody and charged with murdering Kocis.

“They were taken into custody for the outstanding Pennsylvania warrants,” Childress said. “(The evidence) was taken in regard to the active case I had against Mr. Cuadra and Mr. Kerekes.”

Kerekes’ attorneys argued the search warrant did not authorize search or seizure of his vehicle if it was “located on a public roadway, such as Virginia Beach Boulevard.”

Meanwhile, the Times Leader says... a hearing scheduled Monday for prosecution and defense attorneys in the murder case against homicide suspects Joseph Kerekes and Harlow Cuadra has been continued, giving attorneys for Cuadra the chance to file a motion to suppress evidence.

The hearing began Monday with testimony from Detective Matthew Childress from the Virginia Beach Police Department, who obtained search warrants for Kerekes and Cuadra’s home regarding an unrelated Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) case.

Evidence seized from both the house and vehicle of Kerekes and Cuadra has been entered as evidence in the homicide case.

Kerekes, 34, and his partner, Harlow Cuadra, 27, both from Virginia Beach, Va., were stopped and arrested by Virginia Beach authorities while driving on Virginia Beach Boulevard, according to court records, shortly after investigators in Pennsylvania filed criminal homicide charges in the January 2007 slaying of Bryan Kocis, 44, in Dallas Township.

Kerekes’ attorneys, John Pike and Shelley Centini, claim that “Virginia authorities possessed no warrant for (Kerekes’) arrest, nor did (Kerekes) commit any motor vehicle offense which would authorize a traffic stop,” according to court papers.

After Kerekes and Cuadra were arrested, their vehicle was later searched by Virginia authorities and certain items were seized, Centini and Pike said. One of the items taken from their vehicle, according to court records, was a knife.

Luzerne County assistant district attorneys Michael Melnick, Shannon Crake and Allyson Kacmarski are seeking the death penalty for Kerekes and Cuadra if they are convicted. Prosecutors claim in court records that Kerekes and Cuadra killed Kocis, whom they considered their main rival in the gay pornographic film industry.

Luzerne County Court of Common Pleas Judge Peter Paul Olszewski Jr. said Cuadra’s attorneys, Stephen Menn and Michael Senape, have 10 days to receive paperwork from prosecutors with all evidence in regard to a motion by the defense. The hearing is continued until then.

“Mr. Cuadra did not receive all the information. It wasn’t intentional on the commonwealth’s part,” Olszewski said, stating it was merely an oversight.

Olszewski said that due to the severity of the proceeding he would allow the 10 days for Cuadra’s attorneys to make a decision to join the motion, stating that since the trial isn’t scheduled until January 2009, there is plenty of time to sort things out.