Saturday, November 22, 2008

Jurors May be Polled on Views About Gays

The Times Leader reports that attorneys defending two men charged in the killing of a gay pornographic movie producer are requesting permission to ask potential jurors questions about their views on homosexuality.

Harlow Cuadra, 27, and Joseph Kerekes, 34, both from Virginia Beach, Va., are accused in the January 2007 killing of 44-year-old Bryan Kocis at the victim’s Dallas Township home. Investigators allege they killed Kocis, whom they considered their main rival in the gay porn film industry.

Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty for Cuadra and Kerekes, who will be tried together.

Jury selection is scheduled to begin Jan. 5 before Luzerne County Court of Common Pleas Judge Peter Paul Olszewski Jr.

Cuadra’s attorneys, Steven Menn and Michael Senape, and Kerekes’ attorneys, Shelley Centini and John Pike, filed on Friday a list of 71 questions they want to ask potential jurors during the selection process.

Of the 71 questions, 26 examine potential juror opinions on homosexuality and pornography, and 11 questions relate to capital punishment.

Other questions refer to the hardship of serving on a jury panel, publicity about the case, criminal histories and relationships with law enforcement, attorneys and witnesses.

Several of the questions the attorneys want to ask potential jurors analyze their opinions about being in the company of homosexuals, if they or anyone they associate with ever joked about homosexuals or used derogatory terms, avoided television and media programs on homosexuality, or ever remarked about or objected to same sex marriages.

Potential jurors will also be asked if they believe pornography of any kind leads to degradation of morals of individuals involved in the industry, or of they would find the testimony of a homosexual less credible than that of a heterosexual.

Witnesses expected to be called by prosecutors include former clients of a Virginia Beach-based escort business that Cuadra and Kerekes operated, a pornographic movie producer and a gay pornographic film actor.

Investigators allege in arrest and court records that Cuadra and Kerekes wanted to film movies with actor Sean Lockhart, who was a contract model for Kocis’ company, Cobra Video.

A civil lawsuit Kocis filed against Lockhart and his business agent, pornography movie producer Grant Roy, prevented Lockhart from working with Cuadra and Kerekes.

During a meeting at a San Diego restaurant that investigators recorded, Cuadra and Kerekes discussed making “under-the-table payments” to Roy and Lockhart to avoid paying Cobra Video, according to arrest and court records.

A pre-trial hearing is set for Dec. 4.