Thursday, February 26, 2009

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.
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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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