Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Cuadra Rejects Plea Deal

The Citizens' Voice is reporting that Joseph Kerekes’ co-defendant Harlow Cuadra refused a plea agreement Sunday and will stand trial Jan. 5 for first-degree murder and other charges, according to attorneys involved in the case.

Prosecutors offered Cuadra a deal similar to the one Kerekes accepted: a plea to second-degree murder in exchange for life in prison without parole.

Cuadra, 27, of Virginia Beach, Va., had been seeking a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, according to people familiar with the case who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of a court-imposed gag order.

A first-degree murder conviction at trial could mean a death sentence for Cuadra.

Cuadra is also exploring the option of hiring a private attorney to replace the two members of his court-appointed defense team, Stephen Menn and Michael Senape.

Attorneys for Cuadra filed a notice of possible alibi defense in August claiming, like Kerekes, that he was in Room 211 at the Fox Ridge Motel in Plains Township motel the night when Bryan Kocis was killed in January 2007 in Dallas Township, 12 miles away.

Kerekes said he will not testify against Cuadra, but gave a statement to investigators implicating Cuadra as the architect and executioner of the Kocis murder.

Cuadra posed as a fictitious character to gain a meeting with Kocis and went to his home alone the night of the killing, Kerekes said.