Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Cuadra Trial... Day 1 Overview

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.