'Explosive' Day in Harlow Cuadra Murder Trial

JC Adams
WILKES-BARRES, Penn. — Day 11 in the Harlow Cuadra capital murder trial was "emotional and explosive" as Cuadra and his partner and onetime co-defendant Joseph Kerekes both took the stand. Kerekes refused to testify on Cuadra's behalf.

Cuadra, 27, an escort, gay adult producer and website entrepreneur, stands accused of murdering Cobra Video producer Bryan Kocis in January 2007 and setting fire to his Dallas Township, Pa., home. He and Kerekes were arrested in May 2007 and formally charged two months later.

Kerekes pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in early December 2008. He was sentenced to mandatory life in prison without parole. The plea spared Kerekes, 34, from facing the death penalty.

When he pleaded guilty, Kerekes said that "Harlow Cuadra was primarily responsible for the crime," reported the Citizen's Voice newspaper. Defense attorneys had hoped he would reverse those statements. However, once he took the stand, Kerekes admitted to "a late change of heart," reports WNEP.com.

He told the court, " 'I've been thinking a lot about my parents. It would destroy them to say I did something I didn't do.'"

His decision not to testify for his former partner led to an outburst from Cuadra's mother as Kerekes left the courtroom. "You stole my son," she shouted at him.

When Cuadra took the stand, he told the jury that Kerekes was the murderer and described him as "controlling, jealous and a sociopath," per a media report. "Cuadra became emotional and sobbed at times while on the stand. He told jurors he was so frightened by what Kerekes had done that he kept his mouth shut."

Cuadra testified for roughly four hours. He said he never knew of a plan to kill Kocis, "Kerekes and Cuadra met with [Grant] Roy, another pornography producer, and his business partner Sean Lockhart in Las Vegas around Jan. 10, 2007, Cuadra said. Kerekes and Roy wanted Lockhart and Cuadra to shoot three films together," reports the Citizen's Voice.

However, Lockhart had a contract with Kocis at the time. Cuadra testified that Kerekes said, "I would have killed him a long time ago."

Cuadra alleges Roy responded, "Yeah, I thought about that. But you know what, the way this thing is, if [Kocis] ends up dead everyone will be looking at, pointing the finger to me."

On the night of Jan. 24, 2007, Cuadra testified that he had been dropped off by Kerekes at Kocis' home and expected to discuss shooting an adult film. About 20 minutes later, he heard "a rapid knock" at the front door.

"I never thought it would be Joe," Cuadra said.

Kerekes appeared and began fighting with Kocis, before pulling out "a small knife and slashing Kocis' throat." Cuadra testified that he ran outside and hid in their rental car as Kerekes did "something" inside the house.

Cuadra was being cross-examined by prosecution attorneys at post time. Closing arguments are expected to begin Wednesday.