Thursday, March 5, 2009

Harlow Cuadra's Trial... Day 8

8:27 PM: Sources tell me that someone from Kocis' family may testify tomorrow.

6:57 PM: News report from WBRE TV:

video

6:26 PM: I'm transcribing a portion of the news report that was done at 6:00 PM on WNEP TV-16:

"An FBI tape and recording expert said that video tape recordings from Bryan Kocis' home were likely made with cameras investigators said were found in Cuadra's home. Evidence they say proves Cuadra stole the equipment after killing Kocis."

6:12 PM: Also from WNEP TV-16... the prosecution in a Luzerne County murder trial continued to call witness after witness Thursday, trying to prove, among other things, that accused killer Harlow Cuadra has the strength to be a murderer.

He is on trial for the grisley murder of Bryan Kocis. Investigators said Cuadra killed him because he was a major rival in the gay pornography business.

Thursday, several witnesses took the stand, including a man who owns a fitness center in Virginia.

He testified Cuadra was a regular there and was, "A very strong gentleman" who regularly bench pressed 225 pounds.

Prosecutors want to prove Cuadra was capable of attacking and killing Kocis.

Cuadra's partner, Joseph Kerekes was also charged with Kocis' murder. He pleaded guilty and is serving a life sentence. He is expected to testify in Cuadra's defense.

Several others testified, including expert FBI and state police witnesses. They told jurors they could not find DNA or blood evidence from the crime scene, likely because it had all been damaged by the fire that was set to cover up the crime.

The prosecution will continue to call witnesses in this case Friday.

The defense is expected to begin next week.

5:05 PM: WNEP TV-16 reported during the 5 PM news, that the defense is expected to begin their part of the trial on Monday.

1:05 PM: The Times Leader reports that Harlow Cuadra's business partner Joseph Kerekes sold jewelry and several watches at a Virginia Beach, Va., pawn shop on Feb. 10. 2007, the same day when investigators searched their Virginia Beach home.

Irbing Walker III, an employee at Superior Pawn Shop, testified today Kerekes wore clothes that someone "would pick up at the flea market." Walker said Kerekes normaly would dress in designer clothes.

"(Kerekes) stated he was making an addition to (his) house, something about rebuilding," Walker said. "He was not dressed normal; normaly the way he usually dressed."

Walker said he has known Kerekes for several years because Kerekes was a frequent customer at the pawn shop.

Walker was the 58th witness to testify in the capital murder trial of Cuadra, 27, charged in the killing of Bryan Kocis, 44, in Dallas Township on Jan. 24, 2007. Cuadra's trial before a Luzerne County jury began on Feb. 24.

Brian Dunbar, of Superior Pawn Shop, testified that Kerekes told him he needed money for a trip to Las Vegas, Nev.

Investigators in Virginia Beach raided the home of Cuadra and Kerekes where they allegedly found two Sony cameras reported stolen from Kocis' home, which was set ablaze after he was killed.

Lance Treadway, owner of Big House Gym in Virginia Beach, told the jury that Kerekes and Cuadra visited the gym every day, but didn't show on Jan. 24 and Jan. 25.

Treadway and Big House Gym member, Joseph John Zalusky, said Cuadra was "very strong" for his size, and was equal in strength to Kerekes.

Luzerne County Det. Lt. Gary Capitano testified he obtained hand writing samples from Kerekes and Cuadra, and sent the samples to be analyzed to the Federal Bureau of Investigation in an attempt to compare their handwriting to letters, and receipts at a motel in Plains Township and a fitness center in Wilkes-Barre.

Prosecutors said Kerekes completed a receipt at the Fox Ridge Inn on Jan. 23, and Cuadra spent a day at the Odyssey Fitness Center on Jan. 24, 2007.

12:33 PM: The Citizens' Voice is reporting that Harlow Cuadra was very strong for his size in January 2007 and worked out almost daily, the owner of a gym in Virginia Beach, Va., testified this morning.

Lance Threadway, who owns the Big House Gym where Cuadra and his partner Joseph Kerekes worked out, verified records.

Although he was smaller than Kerekes, Cuadra lifted about as much weight as Kerekes, Threadway testified in the eighth day of testimony in Cuadra’s capital homicide trial.

In the days surrounding Jan. 24, 2007, neither Cuadra nor Kerekes checked in at the gym. It wasn't until Jan. 27 that either man returned to his daily workouts, Threadway said.

During cross-examination of witnesses, Cuadra’s attorneys have tried to present Cuadra as the weaker partner, submissive to Kerekes. Attorney Joseph D’Andrea hinted during opening statements that Cuadra was too weak to physically stab Kocis, 44, and slash his throat.

Jurors watched a short video showing a shirtless Cuadra lifting weights at Big House Gym. Threadway testified Cuadra could lift more weight than shown in the video and was about equal in strength to Kerekes.

Seven other prosecution witnesses testified this morning. Luzerne County Detective Lt. Gary Capitano testified to taking writing samples of both Cuadra and Kerekes when the two men were jailed. Prosecution has already submitted several letters from Cuadra to various friends asking for help with an alibi. Capitano’s testimony was to support the prosecution’s case that Cuadra had in fact written those letters.

9:57 AM: According to the Times Leader, Less than a week after meeting Harlow Cuadra and Joseph Kerekes at a Virginia Beach, Va., hotel, escort customer Matthew Brandon claimed they solicited money from him.

Brandon testified Thursday morning on Cuadra's eighth day of his capital murder trial before a Luzerne County jury.

Cuadra, 27, is charged with killing Bryan Kocis, 44, at Kocis' home in Dallas Township on Jan. 24, 2007.

Cuadra and Kerekes, 35, operated a male escort business from their Virginia Beach home and produced gay pornographic movies that they marketed on their Web site, boybatter.com.

Brandon said he first met Cuadra and Kerekes at the Hilton Virginia Beach Hotel on Jan. 20, 2007, and met again alone with Cuadra on Jan. 21, 2007, for escort sessions.

Brandon left Virginia Beach that weekend but received several e-mails signed by Kerekes and Cuadra the night of Jan. 24, the night investigators said Kocis was killed.

Assistant district attorneys Michael Melnick, Shannon Crake and Allyson Kacmarski showed the jury that Brandon received e-mails at 5:03 p.m., 8:36 p.m. and several around midnight.

Investigators alleged Kocis was killed sometime between 7:30 p.m. and 8:34 p.m., based on witnesses accounts and a call to 911 that reported Kocis' home on fire.

Brandon said Cuadra in the e-mail sent at 8:36 p.m. solicited $1,000 from him to attend a Webmaster course at a university in Virginia. In return for the money, Brandon said he recieved a free subscription to boybatter.com and a free boybatter DVD.

Brandon said he paid the $1,000 by credit card.

8:31 AM: Harlow Cuadra's eighth day of trial is scheduled to begin at any moment. 53 witnesses have been called to testify for the prosecution thus far, and there's quite a few more to go. Stay tuned for further updates throughout the day.