There, in early January 2007, Lockhart met Harlow Cuadra and his business partner, Joseph Kerekes, during a seven-course, $3,000 dinner meeting at a Las Vegas restaurant. The two Virginia Beach, Va., men discussed a potential partnership with Lockhart and his business partner, Grant Roy, with Lockhart and Cuadra starring in films together, Lockhart testified Friday in Cuadra’s capital homicide trial.
Until an agreement with Kocis was met, Lockhart couldn’t act under his screen name Brent Corrigan. Cuadra and Kerekes suggested their own solution to the “Kocis problem,” Lockhart said.
“Cuadra said, ‘Well, what if (Kocis) goes to Canada?” Lockhart said.
Not knowing what Cuadra meant, Lockhart responded: “He’ll come back.”
“Joe said something like ‘Harlow has this guy who will do anything for him,” Lockhart said. The topic was dropped almost immediately, Lockhart said, and he didn’t think about it until a few weeks later when Kocis was stabbed to death at his Dallas Township home on Jan. 24, 2007.
“When I left I thought everything was fine,” Lockhart said. “I had no thoughts in my mind that these two individuals were a little askew.”
Lockhart testified for more than two hours and 40 minutes Friday, as prosecution’s 37th witness, and one of its most important. Cuadra, 27, is accused of killing Kocis and setting his house on fire in order to lure Lockhart to the pornography business he co-owned with Kerekes, 35. Kerekes pleaded guilty in December to second-degree homicide and is serving a life sentence.
Pennsylvania State Police contacted Lockhart and Roy, who were considered suspects, within weeks of Kocis’ death, Lockhart said, but the two men agreed to cooperate. They set up a meeting with Kerekes and Cuadra in San Diego in April 2007, where Lockhart and Roy lived.
When the four men met at a nude beach in the La Jolla section of San Diego, Lockhart said Cuadra could tell he was uncomfortable about the Kocis death.
“(Cuadra) touched my arm and said, ‘Don’t worry. It was quick. He went quick,’” Lockhart said.
Kocis’ mother, seated in the front row of the courtroom, held a handkerchief to her face and wept as Lockhart testified. Cuadra scribbled notes and listened intently to the testimony.
Roy carried a recording device hidden in a key chain during the meeting, Lockhart said. But Cuadra’s statement doesn’t appear on the tape.
“It’s not on the tape?” defense attorney Paul Walker asked during cross-examination.
“Harlow pulled me back for discretion,” Lockhart said.
Walker questioned Lockhart on specifics of his communication with Cuadra, pointing to several instances when Kerekes was the one sending messages on Cuadra’s MySpace account.
“It was Roy who first contacted Cuadra (about a film), correct?”
“Yes,” Lockhart said.
A few days after Kocis died, Kerekes called Lockhart, he said, and then handed the phone to Cuadra who told him to go to WNEP-TV’s Web site, where the top story was the fire at Kocis’ Midland Drive home.
“(Cuadra said) ‘I guess my guy went a little overboard,’” Lockhart said. Walker, during cross-examination, had Lockhart reiterate his statement that Cuadra had said “his guy” went “overboard,” and not him.
Before Lockhart finished testifying, Luzerne County Judge Peter Paul Olszewski Jr. held a sidebar with Lockhart to discuss his legal rights.
Lockhart admitted during testimony that he forged documents in order to act for Kocis when he was 17. Lockhart turned down legal counsel, saying he was aware of his right to not incriminate himself.
Testimony started late Friday, as an alternate juror was dismissed. Alternate Juror 3, a male, was too ill to report that morning, Olszewski said. Both sides agreed to dismiss him rather than hold up testimony. The jury, consisting of eight men and four women, is still intact and there are still three alternate jurors, two men and one woman.
When testimony resumes Monday, Roy is expected to testify about his conversations with Cuadra and Kerekes. Jurors are expected to hear the taped conversation between the men as well. On Friday, prosecutors showed a video shot by Roy of Cuadra, Lockhart and Kerekes at the beach.
After jurors left, Lockhart was ordered by Olszewski to not speak with Roy over the weekend, as a precaution before Roy testifies. The two men are no longer romantically involved, Lockhart said.
Lockhart, 22, was shown in the video walking nude side-by-side with Harlow Cuadra, playing catch with a football and doing hand-stands on Black’s Beach outside San Diego, Calif., on April 28, 2007.
Luzerne County assistant district attorneys Michael Melnick, Shannon Crake and Allyson Kacmarski played the video to the jury on Friday, the fourth day of Cuadra’s capital murder trial before Luzerne County Judge Peter Paul Olszewski Jr.
Investigators charged Cuadra, 27, and his partner, Joseph Kerekes, 35, with killing Bryan Kocis, whom they considered their main rival in the gay pornography movie industry, on Jan. 24, 2007.
Kocis, 44, was found with a slashed neck, and nearly 30 stab wounds, inside his burned out home on Midland Drive, Dallas Township. Kerekes pleaded guilty in December to second degree murder and was sentenced to life in prison without parole.
Lockhart, of San Diego, was a contract model for Kocis’ company, Cobra Video.
Lockhart testified for more than five hours on Friday, explaining to the jury how he met Kocis through a boyfriend, his involvement in adult films, meetings with Cuadra and Kerekes and how he reacted after Kocis’ death.
Cobra Video filed a $1 million federal lawsuit in California in February 2006 against Lockhart and his business partner Grant Roy for breach of contract and trademark violations over the use of Brent Corrigan, a copyright name Lockhart used in adult films.
Lockhart said the lawsuit with Cobra Video was verbally settled during the adult video news expo held in Las Vegas, Nev., in mid-January 2007.
“I felt very good about it,” Lockhart said about settling the lawsuit with Cobra Video. “We had two full days with Bryan and they ended very successfully. We all wanted to benefit and move forward.”
While at the expo, Lockhart testified he and Roy had dinner at a restaurant at the Bellagio casino with Cuadra and Kerekes.
During a two hour, seven course dinner that cost about $3,000, Lockhart said he drank seven glasses of wine as Cuadra and Kerekes pressured Lockhart and Roy into filming movies together.
Lockhart said he explained to Cuadra and Kerekes about the settlement with Cobra Video, but Cuadra became agitated.
“I think (Cuadra) had a difficult time understanding why,” Lockhart testified. “It was pretty clear Harlow was frustrated, he didn’t understand the time constraints we had.”
More than a week after the expo, Lockhart said Cuadra called him on Jan. 25, 2007, and advised to go to wnep.com.
“I clicked on the story and it said a fire at 60 Midland Drive. I got that feeling in my stomach. Harlow said, ‘I guess my guy went overboard.’ I told (Cuadra) I had to go and hung up,” Lockhart testified.
Lockhart said he didn’t contact police but instead, he obtained an attorney.
Against his lawyer’s advice, Lockhart said he and Roy agreed to cooperate with Pennsylvania investigators and invited Cuadra and Kerekes to San Diego in April to discuss filming movies.
Unbeknown to Cuadra and Kerekes, Roy wore a recording device while the four met at a restaurant on April 27, 2007, where they discussed making payments under the table to avoid paying Cobra Video as required by the lawsuit settlement.
As they walked away from the restaurant, Lockhart said Cuadra pulled him away from Roy and Kerekes.
“(Cuadra) touched my arm and he said, ‘Don’t worry, it was quick; he went quick,’” Lockhart testified.
The next day, on April 28, the four men visited Black’s Beach with Roy carrying a video camera and a remote car opener that had a recording device.
Roy video recorded Lockhart and Cuadra playing on the beach. The video was played to the jury on Friday.
Lockhart said he was concerned for his life when Cuadra and Kerekes visited them in San Diego.
“I had a job to do despite my fear of my life,” Lockhart said. “I had to play it off as if everything was fine.”
Less than three weeks after investigators recorded the two conversations, Cuadra and Kerekes were arrested in their hometown, Virginia Beach, Va., on May 15, 2007.
Prosecutors are expected to play to the jury the recorded conversations when trial resumes on Monday.