Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Cuadra Trial... Day 6 Overview

The Citizen's Voice reports that one man took the witness stand Tuesday in Harlow Cuadra’s capital homicide trial, but it wasn’t what he said that raised the biggest question for Cuadra’s defense attorneys.

Did Cuadra, during wire-tapped conversations, actually admit to involvement in Bryan Kocis’ stabbing death?

Grant Roy, a former competitor of Kocis’, testified Cuadra had discussed Kocis’ death. Joseph D’Andrea, who is co-defending Cuadra with Paul J. Walker, asked Roy to prove it in a transcript of a wire-tap that took place in April 2007 at a nude beach in La Jolla, Calif.

“Show me one spot in that transcript where it says my client killed Bryan Kocis. I’ll sit here for a week if that’s what it takes,” D’Andrea said during cross-examination.

“I didn’t say that,” Roy responded. “I said in the context of the conversations he said he was there.”

Roy, the prosecution’s 42nd witness, testified for the second straight day. Combined with his Monday testimony, Roy was on the witness stand for more than 12 hours, but for the majority of that time — more than eight hours — jurors listened to two wiretapped conversations. Tuesday jurors listened to a more than three-hour-long audio recording taken at Black’s Beach of Roy, 42, his business partner Sean Lockhart, Cuadra and his business partner Joseph Kerekes.

Cuadra, 27, and Kerekes, 35, who co-owned a male escort and gay pornography business in Virginia Beach, Va., came to San Diego in hopes of cementing a deal in which Lockhart and Cuadra would act together. Roy and Lockhart, who had been involved in a legal dispute with Kocis over Lockhart’s right to act with other pornography companies, were cooperating with police’s investigation into Kocis’ homicide.

Although Kerekes talks more in the recording, Cuadra refers to Kocis’ Dallas Township home and the killing several times, Roy said. Prosecutors allege Cuadra killed Kocis and set fire to his home on Jan. 24, 2007. Cuadra referenced a new entertainment system Kocis had installed at his house, during the recording, as well as videos and other files Kocis kept at the Midland Drive residence. But Cuadra rarely used Kocis’ name directly and referred to another person possibly killing Kocis.

“His (expletive) phone rang,” Cuadra said in the recording. Roy said “he” would be Kocis. “He goes, ya know what, you remind me of something, of someone, and he smiled. And I was like ahhh, I don’t know, I put my head down … Then he smiled at me like, ya know, I know who you (expletive) are … He answers the phone and then right then, ya know, my dude comes around.”

At another time, Cuadra said: “Actually, seeing that (expletive) going down, actually it’s sick, but it made me feel better inside.

“It almost felt like I got revenge and I know that sounds (expletive) up.”

D’Andrea, during cross-examination, tried to point to Kerekes as the potential killer. He showed examples of Kerekes being pushy in trying to negotiate a deal between the two sides.

“There was nothing in this transcript where Harlow Cuadra put pressure on anyone? There was nothing in this transcript where Harlow Cuadra threatened anyone?” D’Andrea asked.

“No,” Roy said.

Kerekes, who was a co-defendant in the case, pleaded guilty in December to second-degree homicide and is serving a life sentence. He will not testify for prosecution.

Assistant District Attorney Michael Melnick, while questioning Roy, cited examples of Cuadra seeming just as eager as Kerekes about making a deal.

“At anytime at Black’s Beach did Mr. Cuadra say he did not slit Bryan Kocis’ throat?” Melnick asked.

“No, he did not,” Roy said.

D’Andrea also pointed to a potential error in the transcript during a particular point. In the transcript it reads:

“Well, ya know, how they say that ah, whoever made it in, had to know Bryan … ? That’s some (expletive), because we did some recon work, and the door doesn’t have a peephole on it.”

After being asked by D’Andrea to review the recording, Roy said it sounded like “he did some recon work,” meaning someone aside from Cuadra had done the reconnaissance work of Kocis’ Midland Drive home.

Roy admitted he first contacted Cuadra about working together, but said Cuadra and Kerekes followed up on the deal many more times.

During cross-examination, Roy also admitted to saying several times he wanted to kill Kocis, because of the very heated negotiations about Lockhart’s working status. Roy also said a model who worked for him referred to hiring a hitman to kill Kocis, but he laughed it off.

“You said if you were going to kill him you would do it yourself?” D’Andrea asked.

“Yes,” Roy responded.

“That’s how bad the blood was between you?” D’Andrea asked.

“There was some pretty heavy things (said) at the time,” Roy said.
According to the Times Leader, Grant Roy, a producer of gay adult films, admits he had motive to kill Bryan Kocis.

Their battle started with Kocis filing a lawsuit in February 2006 against Roy and his business partner and adult film actor Sean Lockhart. The lawsuit, Roy said, prevented him and Lockhart from making money producing adult films.

Fighting back, Roy set up a blog he called Cobra Killer and criticized Kocis and his production company Cobra Video.

After Kocis was murdered in his Dallas Township home on Jan. 24, 2007, Roy assumed that he and Lockhart would be prime suspects.

Roy obtained a criminal defense lawyer who advised him to cooperate with investigators. During one of six meetings with investigators, Roy admitted he wanted Kocis dead.

Roy’s statements came on Tuesday, the sixth day of the Luzerne County capital murder trial of Harlow Cuadra.

Investigators alleged Cuadra, 27, and his partner, Joseph Kerekes, 35, killed Kocis because they wanted to work with Lockhart, a contract actor for Cobra Video.

Two former adult film actors testified last week that Cuadra and Kerekes considered Kocis their main rival in the industry.

Kerekes pleaded guilty in December to second-degree murder and is serving life in prison without parole. Cuadra could face the death penalty if convicted of first-degree homicide.

Roy was on the defensive, reluctantly answering questions from Cuadra’s attorneys, Joseph D’Andrea and Paul Walker. Several times during their exchange, Roy objected to D’Andrea’s questions, claiming his answers would be speculation.

D’Andrea reviewed transcripts of two recorded conversations Roy and Lockhart had with Cuadra and Kerekes on April 27 and April 28, 2007, near San Diego.

Roy agreed to wear a recording device when he invited Cuadra and Kerekes to California to discuss filming movies involving Cuadra and Lockhart. Prosecutors alleged Cuadra and Lockhart made several admissions to Kocis’ killing during the recorded conversations.

“Nowhere in any of the recordings does it say that my client killed Mr. Kocis,” D’Andrea said to Roy.

“The context of the conversation was Harlow was in the house when Bryan was killed,” Roy said.

Not happy with Roy’s response, D’Andrea fired back, offering to sit for a week to allow Roy to find in the transcripts where Cuadra admitted to killing Kocis.

“It doesn’t,” Roy said.

Assistant District Attorney Michael Melnick responded that Cuadra described two different times when Kocis was killed – when the doorbell rang and when Kocis answered his telephone.

D’Andrea said Kerekes was “pressuring” Roy and Lockhart into filming adult movies. Kerekes would ask when and where, and offered Roy and Lockhart $1,000 a month for two years.

“(Cuadra and Kerekes) were trying to press ways into working with us; to pay us under the table,” Roy said.

Prosecutors are expected to show the jury this week several alibi plans Cuadra and Kerekes allegedly made up while they were jailed, including the “For Your Eyes Only” letter Cuadra allegedly wrote to Nep Maliki on June 13, 2007.

Maliki was a customer of an escort business Cuadra and Kerekes operated in Virginia.

In the letter, Cuadra advised Maliki to tell investigators that he was with him in Virginia Beach, Va., the night Kocis was killed.