Harlow Cuadra Murder Trial Cost County $112,000

JC Adams
WILKES-BARRES, Pa. — The price tag for Luzerne County, Pa., prosecutors to put Harlow Cuadra and Joseph Kerekes behind bars amounted to more than $112,000. Cuadra, 27, was convicted of first-degree homicide earlier this month, while Kerekes, 35, pleaded guilty to second-degree homicide in December.

The former escorts, gay adult producers and website entrepreneurs were both sentenced to life in prison for the January 2007 murder of Cobra Video producer Bryan Kocis. They were arrested in May 2007 and formally charged two months later.

"It was a very expensive prosecution," district attorney Jacqueline Musto Carroll told the Times Leader newspaper.

"We have to do these cases just right because we have the burden of proof. With that being said, we kept the cost as manageable as possible."

Prosecution costs included "transportation, lodging and meal expenses for witnesses residing out of Pennsylvania, in addition to a number of exhibits presented to the jury during Cuadra's trial."

According to media reports, county commissioners allotted additional funds to the district attorney's office to offset the trial's ballooning price tag.

In related news, Judge Peter Paul Olszewski Jr. on Monday signed an order directing Cuadra to pay more than $3000 in restitution to the Kocis estate, according to a newspaper report. The money will cover, in part, Kocis' funeral expenses.

Several jurors in the Cuadra trial have spoken to local media about the case. He avoided the death penalty because the twelve jurors "could not unanimously decide whether Cuadra was the killer or the accomplice," reports the Citizen's Voice newspaper. "No one knows who did the actual deed of slashing the man's throat," juror Ellen Matulis said. She was among the four jurors who believed Cuadra could have been an accomplice to Kerekes and not the actual killer.

"I'd be a liar if I said voices weren't raised. Obviously, if you got people who want a death penalty, it gets tense," she said. "We carried a person's life in our hands."

Matulis said the jurors have been altered by the trial. "The shock of actually seeing some of this, it was mind blogging — seeing a burnt corpse, a heart cut with stab wounds… My life was changed and I wasn't the criminal."

Fellow juror Daniel Austin said Cuadra sealed his own fate when he took the stand to testify in his own defense.

"He shot himself in the foot with the different lies," Austin said. "In my eyes, Harlow definitely was the one who did the actual killing. He placed himself in the house, he described it. All reasonable doubt, as far as him being an accomplice, went out the window when he opened his mouth."