Saturday, February 28, 2009

Cuadra Trial... Day 4 Overview

Sean Lockhart

The Citizens' Voice is reporting that Bryan Kocis and Sean Lockhart were nearing a resolution to their yearlong legal dispute when the adult film world converged in Las Vegas for the AVN Adult Entertainment Exposition.

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.

Sean Lockhart

Meanwhile, the Times Leader has this to say... if adult film model Sean Lockhart was concerned for his life, the seven minute video didn’t show it.

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.

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Friday, February 27, 2009

Harlow Cuadra's Trial... Day 4

6:16 PM: Guess who's coming... reporting live from the LZ... ready to report on Monday. :)

5:24 PM: I'm told by a reliable source that PPO issued an order that Sean Lockhart and Grant Roy aren't allowed to speak to each other over the weekend.

4:22 PM: Sources tell me that Grant Roy has not taken the stand thus far, and he probably won't until Monday.

4:00 PM: Once again, I'm told by a court watcher that one of the videos shown during today's trial, was Sean and Harlow playing with one another on the beach, and from what they understand, Grant Roy was video-taping. This video did not include a football being thrown around, and lasted for about 10-15 minutes.

3:08 PM: A court watcher tells me that the trial is on a 15 minute break.

2:50 PM: The Times Leader is reporting that a seven minute video of Harlow Cuadra and Sean Lockhart playing catch with a football and walking nude on a beach near San Diego, Calif., was played to the jury on Friday.

Lockhart, who is testifying on the fourth day of Cuadra's capital murder trial, said Cuadra's partner, Joseph Kerekes, recorded the video on Black's Beach, a nude beach, on April 28, 2007.

Conversations Cuadra and Lockhart had on the beach, including having dinner the day before, is expected to be played to the jury.

Cuadra is charged in the killing of gay pornographic movie producer Bryan Kocis, 44, inside Kocis' home in Dallas Township on Jan. 24, 2007.

Prosecutors alleged Cuadra and Kerekes, 35, killed Kocis to avoid paying Kocis' company, Cobra Video.

Lockhart was a contract model for Cobra Video.

While walking along the beach on April 27, 2007, Lockhart said Cuadra and Kerekes were "opening up" about the murder. This made Lockhart upset, he testified, and he fell behind.

"Cuadra dropped back, he touched my arm and he said, 'don't worry, it was quick, he went quick,'" Lockhart testified while nearly sobbing.

2:31 PM: A court watcher tells me that Sean Lockhart is still on the witness stand, and that there are more spectators in the courtroom these past two days.

1:48 PM: The Citizens' Voice reports that Sean Lockhart, a well-known gay pornography star, started his testimony this morning in the capital murder trial of Harlow Cuadra.

Lockhart, a key witness in prosecutor's case, testified Cuadra started contacting him in the fall of 2006 through his My Space account, a social networking Web site. Cuadra was very persistent that the two men produce a flim together, Lockhart said.

Lockhart, 22, testified for about 40 minutes before the lunch break. He will resume his testimony this afternoon.

Lockhart, along with his business partner Grant Roy, were part of a police wiretap that recorded conversations with Kerekes and Cuadra at a nude beach near San Diego in April 2007. Lockhart has yet to testify about the tapes. Roy is also expected to testify later today.

Kerekes, 35, pleaded guilty to second-degree homicide in December, but is not expected to testify in Cuadra's trial.

Earlier this morning, alternate juror three was dismissed due to health problems.

The male juror, who has diabetes, was too ill to report today, county Judge Peter Paul Olszewski Jr. said. After conferring with attorneys from both sides, the juror was dismissed and testimony continued. Three alternates, two men and one woman, remain in additition to the jury of eight men and four women.

State Trooper Michael Boone continued his testimony this morning about evidence he gathered at Bryan Kocis' Dallas Township home the night he was killed. Prosecutors allege Cuadra stabbed Kocis to death on Jan. 24, 2007, in order to eliminate Kocis, a rival producer of gay pornography, as a competitor.

An employee of AT&T testified about phone records before the morning break.

11:49 AM: And another report from the Times Leader... Luzerne County Judge Peter Paul Olszewski Jr. excused the jury to inquire if Sean Lockhart wanted a lawyer after Lockhart made "potentially incriminating" statements that he worked in adult films as a minor.

Lockhart was answering questions from Assistant District Attorney Michael Melnick about his background in adult films when Olszewski stopped the proceeding and excused the jury from the courtroom.

Olszewski cautioned Lockhart that he may have "incriminated himself criminally" by admitting under oath he provided a false identification and was performing in adult films while a minor.

Olszewski gave Lockhart several options, to include speaking with a lawyer or declining to speak with a laywer and continue to testify.

Lockhart declined to speak or have a lawyer, and Olszewski returned the jury to resume the trial.

11:32 AM: More reports from the Times Leader... Sean Lockhart testified he had several "internet interactions" with Harlow Cuadra beginning in December 2006. Lockhart was called to testify in Cuadra's capital murder trial before Luzerne County Judge Peter Paul Olszewski Jr.

Lockhart said he was "17" years old when he did "two shoots that were spread onto four DVDs," adding that his first film was for Cobra Video, operated by Bryan Kocis, 44.

Lockhart, now 22, said he owns his own adult production company based in San Diego, Calif.

Prosecutors alleged Cuadra killed Kocis, whom he considered a main rival in pornographic films, and wanted to flim movies with Lockhart. Kocis was found dead inside his Dallas Township home on Jan. 24, 2007, more than a week after Lockhart met with Cuadra at the adult video news award ceremony in Las Vegas, Nev.

Two witnesses in adult films testified earlier this week that Lockhart was a "well known" actor in the industry, and Cuadra would have made "six figures" from movies with Lockhart.

11:20 AM: The Times Leader says that Sean Lockhart is expected to testify today at Harlow Cuadra's capital murder trial.

Lockhart walked into the courtroom and sat down, awaiting to be called to the witness stand.

Lockhart's business agent and partner, Grant Roy, is also expected to testify today.

Cuadra, 27, turned to the right when Lockhart entered the courtroom, and put his head down.

Prosecutors are expected to play to the jury recorded conversations Lockhart and Roy had with Cuadra and Cuadra's partner, Joseph Kerekes, in California.

Investigators alleged Cuadra and Kerekes made several "admissions" to the murder of rival gay pornographic movie producer Bryan Kocis in January 2007.

9:26 AM: The Times Leader is reporting that an alternate juror in the Harlow Cuadra capital murder trial in Luzerne County was excused due to illness.

Judge Peter Paul Olszewski Jr. identified the juror as alternate #3, a male who is a diabetic.

Olszewski said the alternate juror's wife contacted the court last night to say her husband was ill. Olszewski said he spoke on the telephone with the alternate juror this morning, and was told the alternate juror became ill overnight.

Due to the developments, Olszewski met with prosecutors and Cuadra's lawyers before trial proceedings, and it was agreed to excuse the juror and continue the trial with three alternate jurors.

Testimony is continuing with state police Trooper Michael Boone, a member of the forensic services unit, Friday morning. He testified that Kocis' home was severely damaged by a fire, and he found five loaded handguns inside the home.

Jurors are expected to listen to conversations investigators intercepted between Cuadra and Kerekes and Grant Roy and Sean Lockahrt. Roy and Lockhart were involved in a civil federal lawsuit with Kocis.

Prosecutors claim in court records that Cuadra and Kerekes made "admissions" to Kocis' murder.

8:25 AM: Harlow Cuadra's fourth day of trial is scheduled to begin in about 5 minutes. Trooper Michael Boone is expected to resume his testimony this morning, and prosecutors are expected to call Grant Roy and Sean Lockhart to testify and to play two recorded conversations they had with Cuadra and Lockhart in San Diego, Calif., on April 27 and April 28, 2007.

Stay tuned for further updates throughout the day.

Cuadra Trial... Day 3 Overview

Robert Wagner

A report from the Times Leader says... Robert Wagner said he told his best friend, Bryan Kocis, that the man who had applied to become a gay pornographic film model was not right for the part.

Kocis sought Wagner’s advice on the potential new model named Danny Moilin for Kocis’ production company, Cobra Video.

“I didn’t think he would be good; he was muscular and old,” Wagner said about Moilin in testimony Thursday in the murder trial of Harlow Cuadra.

Kocis went ahead and invited Moilin into his Midland Drive, Dallas Township, residence on Jan. 24, 2007. Township firefighters found Kocis dead that night inside his burned-out home.

Investigators allege Cuadra, 27, set up several e-mail accounts in the days before Jan. 24 and sent Kocis two applications under the fictitious name of Danny Moilin. The applications were Cuadra’s way to get invited into Kocis’ home to kill his main rival in the pornographic movie industry, prosecutors claim.

Cuadra and his partner, Joseph Kerekes, 35, both from Virginia Beach, Va., were charged with Kocis’ murder. Kerekes pleaded guilty in December to second-degree murder and was sentenced to life without parole.

Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty for Cuadra if he is convicted of first-degree homicide.

Wagner, who testified Thursday, said Kocis was “reclusive” and didn’t allow anyone inside his home unless he was expecting someone.

“He never let anyone in; if someone came to the door, he just wouldn’t answer it. He definitely wanted notice that someone was coming,” Wagner testified.

He said Kocis told him he was meeting a potential new model on Jan. 24, and that Kocis was “really excited about it.”

Kocis’ company accepted model applications on its Web site, and he would often ask Wagner for his opinions. Shortly after receiving the new model applications, Wagner said, Kocis was in the process of settling a year-long federal civil lawsuit he filed against his actor, Sean Lockhart, and Lockhart’s business agent, Grant Roy.

“He was about to do cartwheels because he was settling the civil lawsuit,” Wagner said.

Wagner did tell Cuadra’s lawyers, Joseph D’Andrea and Paul Walker, that there was tension among Kocis, Lockhart and Roy despite the suit being settled out-of-court.

“It was a business relationship. They all had to share the same sandbox,” Wagner described the situation.

While Kocis was settling the lawsuit with Lockhart and Roy, investigators allege Cuadra and Kerekes met Lockhart and Roy during the adult video news award ceremony in Las Vegas, Nev., in mid-January 2007.

Assistant district attorneys Michael Melnick, Shannon Crake and Allyson Kacmarski claim Cuadra and Kerekes killed Kocis to avoid paying Cobra Video 20 percent of proceeds from movies involving Lockhart.

After Kocis was killed, prosecutors allege Kocis’ home was set on fire to cover up the murder. The jury of eight men and four women got a good look at Kocis’ fire-damaged door and plasma television that investigators brought into the courtroom on Thursday.

The jury also was shown a series of photographs of Kocis’ burned home.

State police Trooper Michael Boone, a member of the forensic services unit, testified Kocis’ body was found on a couch, and the fire started near the door behind a love seat. Several smoke detectors were found on tables and the floor, apparently pulled from the ceiling and wall, Boone said.

Several Midland Drive residents testified that they saw Kocis’ house on fire just after 8:30 p.m. Jan. 24. Two of the witnesses also said they saw a light-colored SUV parked in Kocis’ driveway earlier that night.

Prosecutors allege Cuadra rented a silver 2004 Nissan XTerra from Enterprise Car Rental in Virginia Beach on Jan. 23, and returned the vehicle on Jan. 25 with more than 1,000 miles on the odometer.

Thirty-four witnesses have been called to testify in three days of the trial that began on Tuesday before Judge Peter Paul Olszewski Jr.

Prosecutors are expected to call Roy and Lockhart to testify and to play two recorded conversations they had with Cuadra and Lockhart in San Diego, Calif., on April 27 and April 28, 2007.

Investigators claim Cuadra and Lockhart made several admissions about Kocis’ murder to Roy and Lockhart.

Testimony is expected to resume at 8:30 a.m. today.
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Meanwhile, the Citizens' Voice gives a good account of what Kocis' neighbors testified to... the fire that ravaged Bryan Kocis’ Dallas Township home was “large, huge, something I’ve never seen before,” a neighbor testified Thursday.

Amy Lynne Withers had lived next door to Kocis on Midland Drive for 20 years, on Jan. 24, 2007, when the fire at his house grew so large she had to evacuate her own home.

Five of Kocis’ neighbors testified Thursday in the capital homicide trial of Harlow Cuadra. None of them knew Kocis well, or had even met him, but they were the first to report the crime or see a silver sport utility vehicle parked in his driveway.

Withers said she was aware of Kocis’ involvement in the gay pornography industry, but little more. While waiting for her friend, Amy Zamerowski, 27, to arrive, Withers said she heard a single car door slam outside her home, but never saw the car.

When Zamerowski arrived about an hour later at 8:26 p.m., she testified that she saw a light-colored SUV pulling out of Kocis’ driveway. She testified that she heard a “steady beeping” emanating from Kocis’ house as she walked toward Withers’ front door. Withers and Zamerowski said nothing was out of the ordinary until approximately 8:40 p.m., when someone banged loudly on the front door to alert them that Kocis’ house was on fire.

James Gilbert testified that while walking his dog on Midland Drive, he passed Kocis’ house.

“I saw a silver SUV parked next to Kocis’ car in the driveway,” he said.

He did not see the SUV’s license plate number.

Donna Yachim of 45 Midland Drive, lived across the street from Kocis, and observed the SUV driving up Midland Drive.

“The SUV was driving abnormally slow as if it were looking for a property,” she said.

She could not identify any person in the car or see the license plate number. Yachim also said her view of Kocis’ driveway was obscured and she could not determine if the SUV pulled into his driveway.

Yachim’s daughter, Kaytlin, saw Kocis’ house was on fire from her bedroom window and told her mother, who promptly dialed 911.
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Also from the Citizens' Voice... Bryan Kocis was a reclusive man.

He kept several pistols hidden throughout his house for protection, and if people stopped by his Dallas Township home unannounced, he wouldn’t answer the door, a friend and former actor of Kocis’ testified Thursday.

In January 2007, however, Kocis let his guard down. He was thrilled with his gay pornography business. He had just settled a year-long legal issue with one of his actors, and a potential new model was supposed to audition at his home on Jan. 24, 2007, the day Kocis was killed, Robert Wagner said in the third day of testimony in the capital homicide trial of Harlow Cuadra.

“(Kocis) was very excited. He thought (the model) was very cute,” said Wagner, who worked for Kocis’ Cobra video starting in 2000, acting, shooting video among other things.

Cuadra, prosecutors allege, killed Kocis to eliminate him as a rival of the gay pornography business he co-owned with Joseph Kerekes in Virginia Beach, Va. Kerekes pleaded guilty in December to second-degree homicide and is serving a life sentence.

Cuadra and Kerekes wanted to hire Sean Lockhart, who acted under the name Brent Corrigan, but Kocis was an impediment, previous witnesses said.

Kocis was in a legal disagreement with Lockhart, and his partner Grant Roy, Wagner testified, but the men had reached an agreement about filming rights in early January 2007 during meetings in Las Vegas and later San Diego. Everyone was happy with the new arrangement, Wagner remembered, and they had a party in San Diego to celebrate.

“The weight of the world had been lifted off (their) shoulders,” Wagner said.

Wagner visited Kocis the weekend before he was killed. In the days leading to his death, Kocis and Wagner talked daily on the phone, particularly about the model who applied online at Kocis’ Web site and called himself Danny Moilin. Wagner reviewed photos Moilin sent Kocis with his application. The man in the photos, which were shown to the jury, appears to be Cuadra.

Prosecutors have called 35 witnesses so far, but are only about a third of the way through their case. Several of Kocis’ neighbors testified Thursday they saw a silver sport utility vehicle parked in the Kocis driveway the night he was killed. Two days earlier Cuadra used his Discover card to rent a silver Nissan Xterra, from a Virginia Beach business, an employee of Discover Financial testified.

Five pistols were found hidden throughout Kocis’ house, state Trooper Michael Boone testified. Boone testified about evidence investigators found at the crime scene, and will resume his testimony today.

Andrew Pappas, a Drug Enforcement Agency officer in San Diego, testified Thursday he helped investigators with a recording device inside a key chain used to record a conversation among Cuadra, Kerekes, Roy and Lockhart at a nude beach in the San Diego area.

Cuadra admitted to the crimes, prosecutors say, in the taped conversation, which hasn’t been played for the jury yet. Roy and Lockhart are expected to testify to the tape and other conversations they had with Cuadra about Kocis.

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Thursday, February 26, 2009

Harlow Cuadra's Trial... Day 3

3:31 PM: The Citizens' Voice is reporting that a representative from Discover Financial testified Harlow Cuadra used his Discover card to pay for a Silver Nissan Xterra SUV from a Virginia Beach, Va. rental dealer the day before Bryan Kocis was killed.

Prosecutors have called 15 witnesses today in the capital homicide trial of Cuadra, who is accused of stabbing to death Kocis in the victim's Dallas Township home.

Four different neighbors testified they saw a silver SUV parked in the driveway of Kocis’ Midland Drive home the night he was killed.

2:21 PM: The Times Leader reports that prosecutors are expected to show a Luzerne County jury a fire damaged plasma television and door from Bryan Kocis' Dallas Township home.

Ten witnesses have been called to testify today, Cuadra's third day of his capital murder trial before Judge Peter Paul Olszewski Jr.

Several witnesses who testified today reside on Midland Drive. They collectively told the jury that they saw a light colored sport utility vehicle driving on Midland Drive or parked in Kocis' driveway, and afterwards saw Kocis' home on fire.

Donna Yachim, who resides on Midland Drive, testified she was looking out her front window waiting for her husband to come home from work from 6:30 to 6:45 p.m. on Jan. 24, 2007. Yachim said she saw a vehicle slowly driving past her home.

"It was very abnormally slow, it looked like somebody looking for a property," Yachim said.

Yachim said just after 8:30 p.m. that night, her daughter said Kocis' home was on fire. Yachim called 911 and her husband ran to a neighbor's house to alert them to get out.

Assistant District Attorney Michael Melnick said the fire gutted Kocis' home.

11:09 AM: An update from the Citizens' Voice says... Bryan Kocis, having just settled a year-long legal issue with one of his actors, was thrilled with his gay pornography business in early January 2007, a witness testified this morning.

The prospect of a new model, who had applied online at Kocis’ Web site further stoked his excitement, said Robert Wagner, who acted and shot video for Kocis.

“(Kocis) was very excited, he thought (the model) was very cute,” Wagner testified this morning in the capital homicide trial of Harlow Cuadra.

Wagner said he visited Kocis the weekend before his January 2007 death, to help with various aspects of the business. The two men talked numerous times about the prospective model, who called himself Danny Moilin of King of Prussia, but who prosecutors say was really Cuadra.

Prosecutors called three witnesses this morning in the third day of testimony. Cuadra is accused of stabbing Kocis to death at his Dallas Township home in January 2007 before setting the Midland Drive house on fire.

Cuadra, prosecutors say, killed Kocis to eliminate him as a rival of his own gay pornography business, which he co-owned with Joseph Kerekes in Virginia Beach, Va.

After reviewing photos of Moilin, which appear to be Cuadra, Wagner told Kocis he didn’t think the prospective model would work out.

“I didn’t think he was good,” Wagner said. “He was muscle and older looking.”

Kocis disagreed and planned to meet with Moilin on Jan. 24, 2007, the day he died.

Kocis had been in a legal disagreement with Sean Lockhart, stage name Brent Corrigan, and his partner Grant Roy. But the men had reached an agreement about filming rights in early January 2007 in Las Vegas and later San Diego, Wagner said. Everyone was happy with the new arrangement, he said.

“The weight of the world had been lifted off (their) shoulders,” Wagner said.

Previous witnesses testified that Cuadra and Kerekes wanted to sign Lockhart to shoot films for their business, but viewed Kocis as an impediment.

Following Wagner's testimony, prosecutors called Andre Pappas, a Drug Enforcement Agency officer in San Diego. He testified to a recording device he helped investigators use to record a conversation between Cuadra, Kerekes, Roy and Lockhart at a nude beach in the San Diego area. The device was hidden inside a keyless car entry keychain.

Cuadra admitted to the crimes, prosecutors say, in the taped conversation, which hasn’t been played for the jury yet.

10:47 AM: The Times Leader is reporting that Bryan Kocis didn't allow anyone inside his home unless he was expecting someone, a friend testified on day three of Harlow Cuadra's capital murder trial before Luzerne County Judge Peter Paul Olszewski Jr.

Robert Wagner, who described himself as Kocis' best friend, said Kocis was "reclusive" and never answered his door.

Assistant district attorneys Michael Melnick, Shannon Crake and Allyson Kacmarski alleged Cuadra was invited into Kocis' home after he applied to Kocis' company, Cobra Video, under the name of Danny Moilin on Jan. 24, 2007.

Kocis was found dead inside his Dallas Township home later that night by firefighters who responded to the Midland Drive residence for a fire that, investigators alleged, was intentionally set.

Wagner said Kocis asked him about Moilin as a new model for Cobra Video, a production company of gay pornographic films.

"I didn't think he would be good, he was muscular and older," Wagner said about Moilin, who prosecutors claim was Cuadra.

Wagner further testified that he was with Kocis in Las Vegas, Nev., for the adult video news award ceremony in mid-January 2007 and met with Cobra Video actor Sean Lockhart and Lockhart's business agent, Grant Roy.

At the Las Vegas meeting, Wagner said Kocis was about to do "cartwheels" because Kocis settled a federal civil lawsuit he filed against Lockhart and Roy.

It was also at the adult video news ceremony, investigators alleged, that Cuadra and his partner, Joseph Kerekes, met Lockhart and Roy to discuss making films together.

8:16 AM: Harlow Cuadra's third day of trial is scheduled to begin in about 15 minutes, rumor has it that Robert Wagner, Grant Roy, and Sean Lockhart are expected to testify today - we'll see. Stay tuned for further updates throughout the day.

Cuadra Trial... Day 2 Overview

Justin Hensley

According to a report by the Times Leader... Justin Hensley said he was out of work in April 2005 when Joseph Kerekes offered him a job as an escort for Norfolk Male Escorts in Virginia.

Hensley then began performing with Kerekes’ partner, Harlow Cuadra, in gay pornographic films and moved in with the two in July 2005 to help operate their Web sites.

“I grew to be a friend of Cuadra because he took care of me,” Hensley testified Wednesday during the second day of Cuadra’s capital murder trial before Luzerne County Judge Peter Paul Olszewski Jr.

Cuadra, 27, is charged with killing rival pornographic movie producer Bryan Kocis, 44, at Kocis’ Midland Drive, Dallas Township, home on Jan. 24, 2007. Kerekes pleaded guilty in December to second-degree murder and was sentenced to life in prison without parole.

Cuadra’s lawyers, Joseph D’Andrea and Paul Walker, are suggesting to the jury that three other people had more to gain from Kocis’ death, focusing on Kerekes.

Hensley, called to testify by assistant district attorneys Michael Melnick, Shannon Crake and Allyson Kacmanski, said Kerekes was more dominant in the relationship with Cuadra. Hensley quit when Kerekes fired several shots from a handgun during a fight with Cuadra in their residence.

“They wanted me to stay there and work all the time and not have a social life,” Hensley testified. “I was only allowed to leave on the weekends, and if I went out for a sandwich, I had to come right back.”

Hensley said the escort business earned $225 per hour with each client, and up to $10,000 a week. He said among escort clients were a U.S. senator, government contractors with the U.S. military and physicians.

Hensley said Cuadra and Kerekes produced mostly amateur pornographic movies they sold on their Web sites, and believed that if they filmed with gay pornographic movie star Sean Lockhart, they would rise to mainstream pornography and “profit.”

“(Cuadra and Kerekes) talked about working with Lockhart for a year,” Hensley testified. “Lockhart was in some very well-known titles … they would definitely profit a lot of money.”

Lockhart was a contract model for Kocis’ company, Cobra Video.

“The only statements I heard about Cobra Video was that it was their main rival; Mr. Cuadra said that,” Hensley said.

After Cuadra and Kerekes met Lockhart and his business manager, Grant Roy, at an adult video news award ceremony in Las Vegas, Nev., in mid-January 2007, Hensley said they “were really excited to get (Lockhart) down there to work.”

Several representatives from Internet service providers testified Wednesday that e-mails were traced from Kocis’ Cobra Video account to computers registered to Cuadra.

D’Andrea and Walker said “anyone” who had access to Cuadra’s computer could have sent e-mails to Kocis.

Kocis’ Web master, Alex Purente, of Miami, Fla., testified Cobra Video received two model applications from “Danny Moilin” on Jan. 22, 2007. Attached to the applications were several pictures of Cuadra.

Jennifer Ortega, a representative from USA People Search based in Sacramento, Calif., testified Cuadra’s Discover credit card was used on Jan. 20, 2007, to purchase personal information on Kocis. The information, Ortega told the jury, contained Kocis’ address, telephone number and names of neighbors.

Attorney Sean Ernesto Macias, of Los Angeles, testified he was speaking with Kocis on the phone when someone arrived at Kocis’ home late in the afternoon on Jan. 24, 2007.

“My conversation was brief with him,” Macias testified. “He said he was expecting a guest that day, a model or something. He went to answer the door; it sounded like he put the phone down and said ‘Hello,’ the name started with a D.”

Prosecutors allege they traced the e-mail applications to Cobra Video to a computer in Cuadra’s home.

Lockhart and Roy are expected to testify today when the trial resumes at 8:30 a.m.
---

Meanwhile, the Citizens' Voice reports that one company stood in the way of Harlow Cuadra’s burgeoning gay pornography business, a former employee testified Wednesday.

Bryan Kocis’ Cobra Video, considered the industry leader of a type of gay pornography that featured younger-looking actors, was the “main competitor” for Boy Batter, the Web-based pornography company Cuadra, 27, co-owned with Joseph Kerekes in Virginia Beach, Va.

“The only statements that I actually heard and witnessed myself were that Cobra was the main rival,” Justin Hensley said. “Everyone always kept it short with that subject. They didn’t branch off into anything else.”

Hensley started working for Cuadra and Kerekes in 2005 as a prostitute and later acted in the first pornographic films Cuadra produced. Prosecutors called 11 witnesses during the second day of testimony in Cuadra’s capital homicide trial for the January 2007 stabbing death of Kocis at his Dallas Township home.

Cuadra and Kerekes’ prostitution business would pull in more than $10,000 weekly, Hensley said, when Cuadra considered expanding their pornography product. But the films were “amateur” compared to what Kocis made, Hensley said, and Cuadra wanted to hire famed gay pornography actor Sean Lockhart, stage name Brent Corrigan.

“That’s what everybody likes, enjoys that kind of entertainment,” Hensley said.

Cuadra had talked about signing Lockhart more than a year before Kocis’ death, Hensley said, but he couldn’t get the actor because of his contract with Kocis.

Hensley’s testimony detailed Cuadra’s role in his companies, as an actor and producer of pornography as well as a prostitute, but he also presented Kerekes, 35, as aggressive and the more dominant of the two men.

During cross-examination from defense attorney Joseph D’Andrea, Hensley said Kerekes fired a gun inside the house where he lived with Cuadra.

“I’m pretty sure he wanted to shoot Harlow,” Hensley said, because of a fight between them. Hensley, who lived with the two men at their pornography and prostituting hub, moved out because of the incident and has enlisted in the military, serving two tours in Iraq.

Kocis’ attorney Sean Ernesto Macias testified he was on the phone with Kocis the evening of Jan. 24, 2007, the day he was stabbed to death.

“He was expecting a guest,” said Macias, who lives in Los Angeles. “He greeted someone while I was on the phone.”

Earlier Wednesday, prosecutors presented e-mails to Kocis from a prospective actor named Danny Moilin, sent the day Kocis was killed. Attached to the e-mails were photos of Cuadra.

Most of prosecution’s 11 witnesses Wednesday detailed computer or communication information. Defense attorneys questioned the witnesses about proof that Cuadra sent the e-mails or made the online purchases, trying to indicate Kerekes, who had access to Cuadra’s credit card could’ve handled all the transactions.

Four days before Kocis was killed, Cuadra purchased a background report on Kocis, showing information such as his address, phone number and other facts, said Jennifer Marie Ortega, an employee of USA People Search. The company provided Cuadra with the “comprehensive background” report on Jan. 20, Ortega said. During cross-examination, Ortega admitted that although Cuadra’s credit card was used for the purchase, someone else could’ve used his card online.

Prosecutors also presented video evidence showing Cuadra and Kerekes purchasing a Sig Sauer serrated edge knife and a small pistol from a pawn shop in Virginia Beach, Va., on Jan. 23, 2007. The purchase was paid for with Cuadra’s credit card, but D’Andrea said the video shows Kerekes pulling the credit card from his pocket.

“I can’t tell what (Kerekes) pulled from his pocket from this angle,” pawn shop manager Deborah Crain said during cross-examination. “(Cuadra’s) credit card was used … he signed it.”

... and... in another article by the Citizen's Voice: Chris Hurd thought he knew Harlow Cuadra, even though they had never interacted “by sight or sound,” until Wednesday, when Hurd testified at Cuadra’s capital murder trial.

Hurd, the operator of dvinfo.net, an online message board for digital filmmakers, said he recognized “Harlow Cuadra” as the username for a member of the Web site — a user whose account was connected to the accused killer’s e-mail address, harlowrcuadra@excite.com.

Hurd, confident the “Harlow Cuadra” from the Web site was the Harlow Cuadra sitting at the defense table, defended his system of matching usernames to users’ e-mail addresses.

Still, in a digital world where nearly every message board posting, search and connection can be tracked and traced by service providers, e-mail addresses are vulnerable to being faked or hacked to create a false impression or a fictitious Internet persona, Cuadra’s attorney, Joseph D’Andrea, said.

“It’s fair to say you don’t know if the real Harlow Cuadra even was the person who registered,” D’Andrea said.

“I suppose you could say that,” Hurd said.

The site did not require Social Security or driver’s license numbers or credit card information, which can be harder to fake, but did record the Internet protocol addresses from the locations where users accessed and posted on the Web site, Hurd said.

Even the Internet protocol addresses, which are akin to digital fingerprints, are not foolproof, Gavin Pinchback of Sprint Nextel, testified. Cuadra had several wireless Internet access cards from the company, including one that was allegedly used to send an e-mail around the time of the Kocis’ killing.

Pinchback said Sprint required customers like Cuadra to provide a name, date of birth, address, home telephone number, Social Security and driver’s license numbers, all of which were verified before activation.

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Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Harlow Cuadra's Trial... Day 2

3:46 PM: Sources tell me that Sean Lockhart, Grant Roy, and Robert Wagner are all at the courthouse, but they're not expected to testify today.

3:29 PM: The Citizens' Voice also chimes in about Justin Hensley... Harlow Cuadra and his partner Joseph Kerekes made more than $10,000 per week on their gay male prostitution business in Virginia Beach, Va., a former employee testified Tuesday afternoon.

Justin Hensley said he started working for Cuadra in April 2005 because he was very poor. When he worked for them, Cuadra and Kerekes wouldn’t let him leave their home for long, because they wanted him to be available at all times for potential clients.

“I could only leave for a short lunch,” he said.

Ten witnesses have testified Tuesday, including Hensley, in Cuadra’s capital homicide trial. He is accused of killing Bryan Kocis at his Dallas Towsnship home, so he could expand his burgeoning pornography business.

Cuadra, 27, and Kerekes,35, were looking to expand their pornography business and were hoping to land some well-known actors, Hensley said, including Sean Lockhart, who had a contract with Kocis.

Four days before Kocis was killed, Harlow Cuadra purchased a background report on Kocis, showing information such as his address, phone number and other facts about the Dallas Township man, a witness testified this morning.

Jennifer Marie Ortega, an employee of the Web based company USA People Search, said Cuadra purchased a “comprehensive background report on Kocis on January 20, 2007. Kocis was stabbed to death at his Dallas Township home on January 24, 2007.

Cuadra killed Kocis, a rival producer of gay pornography, to further his own gay pornography business.

3:12 PM: Justin Hensley is on the stand, and the Times Leader is reporting that a former employee of Harlow Cuadra and Joseph Kerekes said he earned $225 working as a male escort.

Justin Hensley said he resided with Cuadra and Kerekes, and knew they wanted to film movies with Sean Lockhart, an actor in gay pornographic films.

"They would definately profit a lot of money," Hensely said if Cuadra and Lockhart produced films.

Hensley, who is engaged to a female, said Cuadra and Kerekes earned $225 per hour and up to $10,000 a week in their escort business in Virginia Beach. Hensley said clients to the escort business was a U.S. Senator, government contractors working for the U.S. Military and physicians.

Hensley said Cuadra and Kerekes wanted to make more money so they expanded into pornographic films.

"The only statements that I heard Cuadra say was Cobra Video is a main rival," Hensley said.

Cuadra, 27, is charged in killing Cobra Video operator Bryan Kocis, 44, at Kocis' Dallas Township home on Jan. 24, 2007. Hensley said he was aware that Cuadra met Lockhart, known in the industry as Brent Corrigan, at an adult video news award ceremony in Las Vegas, Nev., in mid-January.

Hensley said he left the home of Cuadra and Kerekes because they "wanted me to stay there and work all the time and not have a social life. I was only allowed to leave on the weekends and if I went out to get a sandwich, I had to come right back."

Hensley is still on the witness stand on Cuadra's second day of trial before Judge Peter Paul Olszewski Jr. He will resume testimony after a 20 minute break.

2:07 PM: Sources tell me that two other witness testified this morning, a Virginia Beach Police Officer who testified about seeing the rental car at Cuadra's place, and Karen Vuaxon, who works for AOL and testified about records pertaining to Kocis' site.

2:02 PM: From an earlier report, the Times Leader said... Prosecutors continue to build their case against Harlow Cuadra, alleging the 27-year old fabricated two applications under another name, and purchased personal information on rival pornographic movie producer Bryan Kocis.

Investigators alleged Cuadra and his partner, Joseph Kerekes, 35, both from Virginia Beach, killed Kocis inside Kocis' Dallas Township home on Midland Drive on Jan. 24, 2007.

Cuadra's jury trial before Luzerne County Judge Peter Paul Olszewski Jr. began Tuesday.

On Wednesday, Kocis' Webmaster Alex Puente, of Miami, Fla., testified Cobra Video - Kocis' production company - received two model applications from Danny Moilin on Jan. 22, 2007.

Puente said the application was completed from the same computer, in which, Assistant District Attorney Michael Melnick alleged was Cuadra's computer.

Upon questioning by Cuadra's lawyers, Joseph D'Andrea and Paul Walker, Puente said he wouldn't know who actually submitted the applications.

Jennifer Ortega, a representative from USA People Search based in Sacramento, Calif., testified that someone using a Discover credit card registered to Cuadra purchased personal information on Kocis on Jan. 20, 2007. The information, Ortega said, contained Kocis' address, telephone number and neighbors.

Deborah Crane, an employee at Superior Pawn Shops in Virginia Beach, testified Cuadra and Kerekes purchased a handgun and a knife from the shop on Jan. 23, 2007.

Melnick showed to the jury a surveillance video from the pawn shop illustrating Cuadra and Kerekes purchasing the items.

1:35 PM: According to the Times Leader, Bryan Kocis was on the telephone speaking with his attorney when investigators suspect Harlow Cuadra arrived at his Dallas Township home.

Attorney Sean Ernesto Macias, of Los Angeles, Calif., testified that he was speaking with Kocis on Jan. 24, 2007, when Kocis put the phone down and answered his door.

"He seemed to be in a good mood," Macias said from the witness stand. "My conversation was brief with him; he said he was expecting a guest that day, a model or something.

"He went to answer the door, it sounded like he put the phone down and said Hello, the name started with a D," Macias said.

Macias was the sixth witness to testify for prosecutors on day two of Cuadra's capital murder trial before Luzerne County Judge Peter Paul Olszewski Jr.

Prosecutors alleged Cuadra, 27, and his partner, Joseph Kerekes, 35, killed Kocis, whom they considered their rival in the pornography movie industry on Jan. 24, 2007.

Earlier today, Kocis' Webmaster, Alex Puente, testified Kocis' company Cobra Video received a model application from Danny Moilin on Jan. 22, 2007.

Assistant district attorneys Michael Melnick, Shannon Crake and Allyson Kacmanski are trying to convince the jury that Danny Moilin is Cuadra.

Macias represented Kocis in a federal civil suit filed against Cobra Video contract model, Sean Lockhart, and Lockhart's business agent, Grant Roy, a director of pornographic films.

Macias said the suit, which alleged Lockhart violated the copyrighted name of Brent Corrigan, was settled sometime in January 2007.

11:02 AM: The Citizens' Voice reports this morning that four days before Bryan Kocis was killed, Harlow Cuadra purchased a background report on Kocis, that showed information such as his address, phone number and other facts about the Dallas Township man, a witness testified this morning.

Jennifer Marie Ortega, an employee of the Web based company USA People Search, said Cuadra purchased a “comprehensive background report on Kocis on January 20, 2007.

Kocis was stabbed to death at his Dallas Township home on January 24, 2007.

Prosecutors called four witnesses this morning in the capital case against Cuadra, 27, who could face the death penalty if found guilty of first-degree homicide in Kocis’ 2007 death. Prosecutors allege Cuadra killed Kocis, a rival producer of gay pornography, to further his own gay pornography business.

Kocis owned Cobra Video. Alexander Fuente, who was the Web master of Cobra Video’s online site, testified Tuesday that days before his death Kocis received two e-mails to the Cobra site from a man named Danny Moilin, who wanted to audition as an actor for Kocis. The five photos attached with the e-mail were shown to jurors and looked similar to Cuadra.

Prosecution will call more witnesses this morning after a 20 minute break.

8:28 AM: Sources in the courtroom tell me that Harlow Cuadra's second day of trial is scheduled to begin in about 5 minutes. Stay tuned for further updates throughout the day.

Cuadra Trial... Day 1 Overview

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The Citizens' Voice reports that Harlow Cuadra believed his gay pornography business would make another $1 million or more if he could get Sean Lockhart to act for him, a former of employee of Cuadra’s testified Tuesday.

The only problem was that Lockhart, who went by the stage name “Brent Corrigan,” had a contract with Bryan Kocis.

“They thought bringing in Brent Corrigan would bring in a six-figure profit to the company,” Andrew Shunk testified. “Brent Corrigan is a well-known actor. That would increase your client base.”

Prosecutors called eight witnesses, including Shunk, during the first day of testimony in Cuadra’s capital homicide trial. Cuadra is accused of killing Bryan Kocis at his Dallas Township home in January 2007, prosecutors say, in order to eliminate the 44-year-old Kocis as a competitor in a gay pornography business that featured younger actors.

Kocis was “nearly completely decapitated in one fell swoop, and his body was so badly burned that any DNA evidence was annihilated in a fierce blaze” that destroyed his Midland Drive home on Jan. 24, 2007, Assistant District Attorney Michael Melnick said during opening statements Tuesday.

Melnick outlined the prosecution’s case, saying computer evidence will show Cuadra pretended to be a potential new gay pornography star named Danny Moilin in order to gain entrance to Kocis’ home. Kocis was very private and didn’t let his own family visit him without an appointment, Melnick said. But Cuadra was able to gain access to the home, according to Melnick, because he sent in photos and e-mails to Kocis just days prior, claiming he was a young man from King of Prussia, who wanted to start acting in pornography.

Shunk, who started acting for Cuadra in September 2006 but now works as a medic, said Cuadra hoped to hire Lockhart away from Kocis and pay him directly for a couple of scenes with Cuadra.

Cuadra and Joseph Kerekes, who co-owned gay pornography and prostitution businesses in Virginia Beach, Va., met up with Lockhart and his business partner Grant Roy during an adult film awards show in Las Vegas in early January 2007 before Kocis was killed, Shunk testified. During the dinner Roy, Cuadra hinted at Kocis’ demise, Melnick said during his statement.

Cuadra told Roy that “If you’re going to do that, then maybe I can have Bryan Kocis go to Canada,” Melnick said.

As Shunk testified, Cuadra leaned over to speak to his attorneys Joseph D’Andrea and Paul K. Walker. He took notes in a legal yellow pad. Cuadra shook his head in disbelief asked about Cuadra’s workout habits and who was more muscular, Cuadra or Kerekes, Shunk responded, “Harlow.”

Cuadra’s defense, so far, appears to be focused on Kerekes as the potential killer of Kocis.

Dr. Mary Frances Pascucci, a forensic pathologist, testified that the blow to Kocis’ neck likely killed him and that the subsequent stab wounds to Kocis’ body occurred after death.

Pascucci reviewed photos of Kocis’ charred body, which suffered third-degree burns, she said, over 90 percent of his body. As she spoke, several jurors showed discomfort at the images, but continued to listen to the testimony.

Harlow Cuadra

Meanwhile, according to the Times Leader... Harlow Cuadra and his partner, Joseph Kerekes, thought they would make hundreds of thousands of dollars if they filmed gay pornographic movies with the industry’s premier actor, a witness testified on Tuesday.

Cuadra, 27, and Kerekes, 35, met the actor, Sean Lockhart, at the adult video awards ceremony in Las Vegas in mid-January 2007, and posted a picture of a hugging Cuadra and Lockhart on their Web site.

It was less than a week after the Vegas trip when investigators alleged Cuadra and Kerekes killed Bryan Kocis, 44, whom they considered their main rival in the pornography movie industry.

Lockhart was a contract model for Kocis’ company, Cobra Video, prosecutors said, and was required to pay Kocis 20 percent of movie sales proceeds.

“They thought if they brought in Sean Lockhart, they would bring in six figures,” former porn actor Andrew Joseph Shunk testified. “They thought it will create a youth phenomenon.”

Andrew Shunk

Shunk said Lockhart, known in the industry as Brent Corrigan, was to earn $50,000 per scene with Cuadra’s production company.

Shunk was the eighth witness to testify for prosecutors on the first day of Cuadra’s capital murder trial before a Luzerne County jury.

Assistant district attorneys Michael Melnick, Shannon Crake and Allyson Kacmanski are seeking the death penalty for Cuadra. Kerekes pleaded guilty in December to second-degree murder and was sentenced to life in prison without parole.

Cuadra’s lawyers, Joseph D’Andrea and Paul Walker, said Cuadra is innocent, raising suspicions that three other people had more to gain from Kocis’ death.

“Our defense is simple, Harlow didn’t do it,” D’Andrea told the jury during his opening statement. “You’ll hear that Grant Roy and Sean Lockhart hated Bryan Kocis; they even wanted him dead. They (Kerekes and Cuadra) had a male escort business, a male prostitution business. It was money that motivated Joseph Kerekes; he prostituted his lover Harlow to make money.”

Roy, who is expected to testify, and Lockhart are partners in a movie production company called LSG Media based in San Diego. Prior to Kocis’ murder, Kocis settled a federal civil lawsuit he filed against Roy, Lockhart and their production company claiming infringement on the copyright name Brent Corrigan.

D’Andrea said the relationship Roy and Lockhart had with Kocis was “hostile.”

Forensic pathologist Dr. Mary Pascucci testified Kocis died from a slashed neck that caused “near decapitation,” and suffered 28 stab wounds after he died. His body was found in his Dallas Township home on Midland Drive by firefighters who responded to a fire at the residence.

Prosecutors showed the jury several autopsy photos on a projector screen, with Pascucci detailing the extent of Kocis’ fatal injuries.

“The body was extremely charred, he had third-degree burns on approximately 90 percent of his body,” Pascucci said.

Forensic orthodontist Dr. John Hosage said Kocis was positively identified by dental records.

Melnick, along with Crake and Kacmanski, outlined their case to the jury during their opening statement. He plans to show videos of Cuadra lifting weights, purchasing a knife at a pawn shop, and numerous cell phone and e-mail records from cell towers from Virginia Beach to Dallas Township.

Judge Peter Paul Olszewski Jr. is scheduled to resume the trial at 8:30 this morning.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Harlow Cuadra's Trial... Day 1

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6:02 PM: The Citizens' Voice also chimes in about Andrew Shunk... a former employee of Harlow Cuadra's gay pornography company testified Tuesday afternoon in Cuadra's capital homicide trial.

Andrew Joseph Shunk started working for Cuadra in September 2006, about five months before Bryan Charles Kocis was stabbed to death at his Back Mountain home. Cuadra was very interested in hiring Brent Corrigan, who had a contract Kocis at the time, Shunk said. Cuadra, along with Joseph Kerekes, owned gay pornography and prostitution businesses in Virginia Beach, Va.

"They thought bringing in Brent Corrigan would bring in a six-figure profit to the company," Shunk said.

Corrigan, the stage name for Sean Lockhart, was considered the "Tom Cruise" of the type of pornography Caudra and Kocis produced, Assistant District Attorney Michael Melnick said.

Shunk said the plan was to hire Corrigan away from Kocis and pay him directly for a couple of scenes with Cuadra. Because Corrigan had a deal with Kocis, that wasn't possible at the time, Shunk said.

Shunk was the prosecution's eighth witness Tuesday. Cuadra, 27, is accused of killing Kocis, 44, at his Dallas Township home in January 2007, because Kocis was a rival producer of gay pornography films.

4:57 PM: According to Times Leader reports... Andrew Shunk, a former gay pornographic actor, testified that Harlow Cuadra and Joseph Kerekes wanted to produce movies with Sean Lockhart, known as Brent Corrigan in the industry.

"Cuadra wanted to do pornography films with Sean Lockhart," Shunk said. "(Cuadra and Kerekes) thought if they brought in Sean Lockhart, they would bring in six figures....and it would cause a youth phenomenon."

Shunk was the eighth witness to testify by prosecutors on the first day in Cuadra's capital murder trial on Tuesday. Cuadra is charged in the killing of rival gay pornography movie producer Bryan Kocis, 44, in Dallas Township on Jan. 24, 2007.

Investigators alleged Cuadra and his partner, Joseph Kerekes, 35, killed Kocis, whom they considered their rival in the gay pornography industry.

Shunk said Cuadra and Kerekes met Lockhart at an adult video awards ceremony in Las Vegas in mid-January 2007 where they discussed the business of fliming movies.

Shunk said Cuadra and Kerekes offered Lockhart $50,000 per scene.

Testimony concluded with eight witnesses called by prosecutors. The first seven witnesses established that Kocis was killed, and his identification was made by dental records.

The trial is scheduled to resume Wednesday morning.

3:56 PM: I'm told by a court watcher that so far there's been five witnesses, and the defense has only really cross examined two of them (more details to come later).

3:25 PM: The Times Leader reports that forensic pathologist Dr. Mary Pascucci testified Bryan Kocis was killed by a slashed neck, and suffered 28 stab wounds after he died.

Pascucci is the fifth witness called by prosecutors to testify on the first day of Harlow Cuadra's capital murder trial.

Assistant District Attorney Michael Melnick showed the jury a series of autopsy photos, with Pascucci - using a laser pointer - detailing the slashed neck and stab wounds on Kocis' body.

"He was extremely charred, he had third degree burns on approximately 90 percent of the body," Pascucci said.

Forensic dentist Dr. John Hosage testified due to the extreme condition of the charred body, he positively identified Kocis by dental records provided by dentist Dr. John Evans, Kocis' dentist.

3:01 PM: A court watcher tells me that contrary to what some may have thought... the courtroom isn't packed at all. There's approximately 5 reporters, 10 members of the Kocis family and that’s really about it [unsure if Cuadra's mother and sister were there at the time].

2:52 PM: Sources are now telling me that Robert Wagner is not expected to testify today, perhaps tomorrow. Also, apparently two other witnesses for the prosecution missed their flight to Pennsylvania last night.

1:43 PM: According to the Citizens' Voice... prosecutors called their first three witnesses, before breaking for lunch, in the capital homicide trial of Harlow Cuadra. The 27-year-old is accused of killing Bryan Charles Kocis at his Dallas Township home in January 2007, because Kocis was a rival producer of gay pornography films.

Kocis was “nearly completely decapitated in one fell sweep, and his body was so badly burned that any DNA evidence was annihilated in a fierce blaze” that destroyed his Midland Drive home on January 24, 2007, Assistant District Attorney Michael Melnick told jurors Tuesday morning.

“These were the horror and heavy tidings given to the Kocis family in the new year,” Melnick said pointing to Cuadra, who could face the death penalty if found guilty of first-degree homicide.

Melnick’s opening statement Tuesday revealed the scope of the prosecution’s case they hope will prove Cuadra killed 44-year-old Kocis. During his one-hour and 24minute opening statement, Melnick cited numerous pieces of prosecution’s evidence and the three-month long investigation that led to the arrest of Cuadra and his partner Joseph Kerekes.

“This is a case that went from the waters of the Atlantic (Ocean) to the sands of the Pacific,” Melnick said.

Cuadra’s defense team of attorneys Joseph D’Andrea of Dunmore and Paul J. Walker of Scranton, are taking a different approach to the case.

“Our presentation and our theory is very simple and very precise,” D’Andrea said during his opening statement. “Harlow didn’t do it. This young man didn’t slash anyone’s throat, stab him 28 times or set his house on fire.”

D’Andrea called his client innocent and said that he was under a spell of Kerekes at the time of Kocis’ death. Kerekes, 35, co-owned a gay pornography and prostitution business with Cuadra in Virgina Beach, Va. Kerekes pleaded guilty to second-degree homicide in December and said he will not testify in this case.

“Joe was the dominant partner,” D’Andrea said. “Joe was controlling and he controlled Harlow, both on the personal and professional side… Joe Kerekes cared about one thing, getting ahead and that meant money…He prostituted his own lover, Harlow, to make money.”

D’Andrea, whose opening statement only lasted 15 minutes, urged jurors to not judge the case by the number of witness or their length of testimony. Instead, he said, look at the credibility of the case and for any potential doubt and who had the greater motive and ability to commit the crime, which suggested was Kerekes.

“I will tell you right now the commonwealth will have many more witnesses,” D’Andrea said. “This is not a case that will be judged by the number of witnesses or the length they testify.”

Computer evidence will show that Cuadra pretended to be a potential new gay pornography star named Danny Moilan in order to gain entrance to Kocis’ home, Melnick said. Kocis was very private and didn’t let his own family visit him without an appointment, Melnick. But Cuadra was able to gain access to the home, because he sent in photos and e-mails to Kocis, claiming he was a young man from King of Prussia, who wanted to start acting in pornography , Melnick said.

Cuadra killed Kocis, Melnick said in order to lure the “Tom Cruise of that type of gay porn,” Sean Lockhart, to his business. Lockhart was under contract with Kocis at the time, Melnick said. During a dinner in early January in Las Vegas with Cuadra, Kerekes, Lockhart and his business partner Grant Roy, Cuadra hinted at Kocis’ demise, Melnick said.

Cuadra told Roy that “If you’re going to do that, then maybe I can have Bryan Kocis go to Canada,” Melnick said during his opening statement.

Melnick also read from wiretapped conversations Cuadra allegedly had with Lockhart and Roy in April 2007 at a nude beach in the La Jolla section of San Diego.

Melnick read from the transcribed tape, telling jurors Cuadra said:

“It was quick, he never saw it coming…Actually seeing (Kocis) going down, made me feel better inside.”

Prosecutions first three witnesses —County Chief Deputy Coroner William Lisman, state police Corporal Thomas S. Wall and dentist Dr. John G. Evans—primarily testified to forensic evidence at the crime scene particularly related to dental records that verified the body found inside the charred Midland Drive home was Kocis. Shannon Crake, who along with fellow assistant district attorney Allyson Kacmarski is prosecuting the case with Melnick, examined Lisman during his testimony.

11:42 AM: The Times Leader is reporting that Attorney Joseph D'Andrea said Harlow Cuadra is "innocent" in the killing of Bryan Kocis, and shift blame to possibly three other people.

In his 15 minute opening statement to the jury that will ultimately decide Cuadra's fate, D'Andrea said Grant Roy and Sean Lockhart, and/or Joseph Kerekes had the ability to kill Kocis.

Prosecutors alleged Kocis, 44, was killed because he was considered a rival gay pornographic movie producer.

"Our defense is simple, Harlow didn't do it," D'Andrea said.

D'Andrea said Kocis and Lockhart, a contract model for Cobra Video, was engaged in a relationship that turned sour. Lockhart began a relationship with Roy, and the relationship with Kocis became "hostile," D'Andrea said.

"You'll hear testimony that Grant Roy and Sean Lockhart hated Bryan Kocis, they even wanted him dead," D'Andrea said.

D'Andrea described Cuadra's partner, Kerekes, as a dominant person who controlled Cuadra and was motivated by money.

"They (Kerekes and Cuadra) had a male escort business, a male prostitution business," D'Andrea said. "It was money that motivated Joseph Kerekes...(Kerekes) prostituted his lover Harlow to make money.

"Harlow sits here innocent and he has the protection of innocence throughout this trial."

After D'Andrea's opening statement to the jury, assistant district attorneys Michael Melnick, Shannon Crake and Allyson Kacmanski began their attempt to convict Cuadra of first degree homicide.

Their first witness, Chief Deputy Coroner William Lisman, is testifying about finding Kocis' body inside his home at 60 Midland Drive, Dallas Township, on Jan. 24, 2007, and the attempts that positively identified Kocis.

11:38 AM: Sources tell me that Robert Wagner is in the courthouse, ready to testify for the prosecution... unsure if he'll be the first witness called though.

11:14 AM: The Times Leader reports this morning that Luzerne County Assistant District Attorney Michael Melnick didn't hold back during his opening argument on the first day of Harlow Cuadra's capital murder trial.

Melnick, who addressed the jury for exactly one hour, outlined the investigation that began at 8:34 p.m. on Jan. 24, 2007, when 911 received a call that Bryan Kocis' home on Midland Drive, Dallas Township, was on fire. He described in detail how Kocis suffered a fatal slashed throat that nearly decapitated him, 28 stab wounds after he died, and the investigation that centered on Cuadra and his partner, Joseph Kerekes, from "the waters of the Atlantic to the sands of the Pacific."

"It was all for a buck," Melnick said at the end of his opening argument.

Investigators alleged Cuadra and Kerekes wanted to work with Sean Lockhart, a contract model for Kocis' company, Cobra Video.

Cuadra's lawyers, Joseph D'Andrea and Paul Walker, have the option to give an opening argument to the jury.

11:08 AM: The Citizens' Voice reports that the prosecution gives opening argument in Cuadra murder trial:

Bryan Charles Kocis was nearly completely decapitated, and his body so badly burned that any DNA evidence was annihilated in the fierce blaze that destroyed his Dallas Township home on Jan. 24, 2007, Assistant District Attorney Michael Melnick told jurors this morning.

“These were the horror and heavy tidings given to the Kocis family in the new year,” Melnick said pointing to Harlow Cuadra, who could face the death penalty if found guilty of first-degree homicide.

Melnick’s opening statement lasted one hour and 24 minutes this morning, as he detailed the case against Cuadra, 27. He is accused of killing Kocis, 44, a gay pornography producer, to eliminate him as a competitor.

Melnick described computer and cellular phone evidence, placing Cuadra, of Virginia Beach, Va., in Kocis’ neighborhood at the time of killing. He also referenced wiretapped conversations between Cuadra and others in which Cuadra allegedly admits to knowledge of the crime.

“It was quick. He never saw it coming,” Melnick said, quoting Cuadra. “Actually seeing (Kocis) going down, made me feel better inside.”

Kocis’ mother, seated in the front row in the courtroom, cried as Melnick described how Kocis died. Cuadra scribbled notes in a yellow legal pad as Melnick spoke.

Defense attorney Joseph D’Andrea of Dunmore will give his opening statement when jurors return to the courtroom and the prosecution will call its first witness.

8:36 AM: Sources in the courtroom tell me that Harlow Cuadra's trial is scheduled to begin in about 10 minutes. Stay tuned for further updates throughout the day.

Cuadra's Trial Starts this Morning...

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Update 7:00 AM: The Citizens' Voice says: Slumped into the wooden bench 15 feet behind her son, Harlow Cuadra’s mother cupped her face in her hands and wept as the woman explained why she couldn’t be the 12th juror in the capital homicide trial.

“I just can’t believe he did it,” the 99th potential juror said Monday morning before Judge Peter Paul Olzsewski Jr. “He looks like a kid.”

Luzerne County prosecutors will begin their case today, trying to prove that despite his small stature and appearance, 27-year-old Cuadra killed Bryan Charles Kocis at his Dallas Township home in 2007, stabbing Kocis 28 times in the torso before setting fire to his Midland Drive home.

Opening statements will begin at 8:30 a.m. in the trial expected to last about three weeks.

It took five days to reach a jury panel of eight women and four men, as well as four alternate jurors, three men and one woman. Prosecution and defense attorneys interviewed 122 potential jurors individually.

Assistant District Attorney Michael Melnick will give the prosecution’s opening statement. He will outline the commonwealth’s case that Cuadra plotted to kill Kocis, 44, a rival pornography producer in order to lure an actor to his own pornography business. Cuadra operated the business with his partner Joseph Kerekes, 35 in Virginia Beach, Va. Kerekes, who pleaded guilty in December to second-degree homicide and is serving a life sentence, will not testify during the trial.

Melnick and his fellow prosecutors, with more than 100 witnesses, will present a meticulously detailed case they hope will point to Cuadra as Kocis’ killer. Witnesses are expected to testify on everything from forensic evidence at the crime scene, to the location of Cuadra the night Kocis was killed, as well as a supposed admission by Cuadra during a wire-tapped conversation at a nude beach in the La Jolla section of San Diego.

Cuadra, who could face the death penalty if found guilty of first-degree homicide, has remained quiet during the five days of jury selection, speaking rarely and almost exclusively to his attorneys. Occasionally Cuadra has turned from his chair at the defendant’s table to smile at his mother and sister who have watched most of the jury selection.

Kocis’ parents and sister, who have attended almost every hearing related to the case, sat in the front row of the courtroom as jury selection slowly moved through almost 25 hours of questioning.

Cuadra is represented by attorneys Joseph D’Andrea of Dunmore and Paul J. Walker of Scranton. Walker questioned potential jurors, focusing on any bias the jurors might have, particularly related to the death penalty or prejudice against homosexuals. D’Andrea will give the defense’s opening statement. None of the attorneys can comment to the media, because of an order by Olszewski, but the defense is expected to argue Cuadra couldn’t have committed the crime and point to Kerekes as the potential killer.

Update 2:14 AM: According to the Times Leader, prosecutors were moving computers, a projector screen and boxes of evidence into a Luzerne County courtroom Monday night in anticipation of Harlow Cuadra’s capital murder trial.

Opening arguments are set to begin this morning after five sluggish days of selecting 12 jurors and four alternates ended early Monday evening.

Cuadra, 27, could face the death penalty if he is convicted of first-degree homicide in the killing of rival gay pornographic movie producer Bryan Kocis.

Investigators alleged Cuadra and his partner, Joseph Kerekes, 35, both from Virginia Beach, Va., killed Kocis, 44, in his Dallas Township home that they set on fire on Jan. 24, 2007.

Kerekes pleaded guilty on Dec. 8 to second-degree murder and was sentenced to life in prison without parole. Kerekes pledged when he was sentenced that he won’t testify against Cuadra. He is jailed at the State Correctional Institution at Camp Hill.

Assistant district attorneys Michael Melnick, Shannon Crake and Allyson Kacmarski have issued more than 150 subpoenas for witnesses to testify during the expected two- to three-week trial. Most of the witnesses are from other states, including a witness – Robert Wagner – from London, England.

Wagner was allegedly on the telephone speaking with Kocis prior to Kocis’ murder.

Prosecutors are expected to show the jury a number of crime scene and autopsy photographs, surveillance video of Cuadra and Kerekes buying a knife from a pawn shop, and play two recordings of conversations the two men had with Grant Roy and Sean Lockhart in San Diego, in April 2007.

Investigators allege Cuadra and Kerekes made several admissions during the conversations about the homicide and the way Kocis was killed, according to arrest records.

A recording device was placed on Roy when the four men met at a San Diego restaurant on April 27, 2007, and investigators installed a device in an electronic key chain when the four men visited a nude beach on April 28, 2007.

Roy and Lockhart are expected to testify. They were embattled in a federal civil lawsuit against Kocis’ company, Cobra Video, which was settled in January 2007.

Prosecutors allege Cuadra and Kerekes considered Kocis their rival in the gay porn industry, and wanted to film movies with Lockhart, who was under contract by Cobra Video.

The jury is expected to be shown e-mails Cuadra, under the name Danny Moilin, allegedly sent to Kocis.

Investigators allege Cuadra sent Kocis an application to become a model for Cobra Video, and agreed to meet on Jan. 24, 2007.

Cuadra is represented by attorneys Joseph D’Andrea and Paul Walker, who began defending him in December.
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The Times Leader reports that opening arguments are set to begin Tuesday morning in the Luzerne County capital murder trial against Harlow Cuadra, 27, charged in the killing of rival gay pornographic movie producer Bryan Kocis.

Prosecutors and Cuadra's attorneys chose 12 jurors, and four alternates, in five days of selecting the jury that began last Tuesday.

The jury is made up of eight males and four females. The alternate jurors are made up of three males and one female. In the event a juror is excused for cause, an alternate juror will take their place.

Investigators alleged Cuadra and his partner, Joseph Kerekes, 35, both from Virginia Beach, Va., killed Kocis, 44, inside Kocis' home in Dallas Township on Jan. 24, 2007.

Kerekes pleaded guilty in December to second degree murder, and was sentenced to life in prison without parole.

Judge Peter Paul Olszewski Jr. has scheduled opening arguments to begin at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday.
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The Citizens' Voice is also reporting that all four alternates and 12 jurors in the capital murder case of Harlow Cuadra have been selected, and opening arguments will begin Tuesday morning.

Prosecutors and defense attorneys interviewed 122 potential jurors to get the panel of eight men and four women. The four alternates are composed of three women and one man.

The panel will decide Cuadra's guilt or innocence in the January 2007 killing of Bryan Kocis, who was stabbed at his Dallas Township home before it was set on fire.

Jury selection started last Tuesday. The high publicity of the case, the possibility of the death penalty and potential bias against Cuadra, who worked in the gay pornography business, have all led to the slow pace of selecting a jury.
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PC reports: I just got back from my flight/trip (11:48 PM Monday), and will be reporting as normal from today forward... my apologies for the slow reports over the past couple of days, but I did the best I could - remember, it was a vacation. :)