Saturday, February 21, 2009

Cuadra Jury at 11... Selection Continues Monday

The Times Leader is reporting that it looked promising for a man listed as juror 94, a retired railroad employee. He pledged to keep an open mind during Harlow Cuadra’s trial, and understood the penalty phase in a capital murder proceeding.

Lawyers were receptive to his answers until he complained no one on Pennsylvania’s death row is executed.

His opinion got him excused by Judge Peter Paul Olszewski Jr. from serving on the jury that will decide Cuadra’s fate.

Assistant district attorneys Michael Melnick, Shannon Crake and Allyson Kacmarski are seeking the death penalty for Cuadra, 27, charged in the alleged premeditated killing of rival gay pornography movie producer Bryan Kocis in January 2007.

Kocis, 44, was found with a slashed throat, and nearly 30 stab wounds, inside his burned out home on Midland Drive, Dallas Township.

A co-defendant in the case, Joseph Kerekes, 35, pleaded guilty in December to second degree murder and was sentenced to life in prison.

Before he was killed, Kocis told an associate he was meeting a new model on Jan. 24, 2007. Investigators alleged Cuadra set up several e-mail accounts and sent Kocis several e-mails identifying himself as Danny Moilin in a model application for Kocis’ company, Cobra Video.

It was under that disguise, investigators alleged, that Kocis invited Cuadra into his home the night he was killed.

Prosecutors claim the motive to the killing was Cuadra and Kerekes wanted to work with Sean Lockhart, who was a contract model for Cobra Video.

Prosecutors and Cuadra’s attorneys, Joseph D’Andrea and Paul Walker, questioned 94 out of a pool of 125 people specially summoned for the trial during the last four days.

Eleven people – seven males and four females – have been chosen.

The attorneys need to select 12 jurors, plus four alternates, before opening arguments begin.

Olszewski will resume jury selection Monday morning.
According to the Citizens' Voice... eleven jurors have been deemed “acceptable” for the capital homicide trial of Harlow Cuadra after a fourth day of jury selection.

Three men were added to the jury Friday from 33 potential jurors interviewed by prosecution and defense attorneys. The jury is now composed of seven men and four women.

Prosecutors are seeking a first-degree homicide conviction of Cuadra, 27, of Virginia Beach, Va., in the killing of Bryan Kocis, 44, of Dallas Township. Kocis was killed in his home in January 2007. Prosecutors allege Cuadra stabbed Kocis, a rival producer of gay pornography, before setting fire to his home, in order to advance his own pornography business.

If Cuadra is found guilty of first-degree homicide, the jury will consider imposing the death penalty or a sentence of life in prison without parole.

The search for the 12th juror and four alternates will resume Monday at 8:30 a.m. at the Luzerne County Courthouse.

Prosecutors and defense attorneys will have to select the five jurors.

Prosecution and defense attorneys probed 94 jurors thus far in a process expected to last at least five days. The defense has struck 18 potential jurors and county prosecutors have struck 14. Each party has been allotted 20 challenges while selecting the 12 jurors. Each side is given two challenges while selecting the alternate four jurors.

Luzerne County Judge Peter Paul Olszewski Jr. said if the five jurors could be chosen by noon on Monday, opening arguments would begin that afternoon. Otherwise, Olszewski said the trial would commence Tuesday morning.