Cuadra Attorneys Ask for Separate Trial, Change of Venue

Joanne Cachapero
WILKES-BARRE, Pa. — Defense attorneys for accused murder suspect Harlow Cuadra have petitioned the judge in the case to hold separate trials for Cuadra and ex-partner Joseph Kerekes, according to a report.

The pair stands accused of the January 2007 murder of rival gay adult film producer Bryan Kocis.

The request for separate trials came on Friday, following dismissal on a motion from Kerekes attorneys to prevent nearly 100 potential witnesses from testifying against Kerekes and reputing his planned alibi defense, the reported. According to documents submitted by the prosecution, Kerekes may have made comments to several witnesses implicating Cuadra for the murder.

Cuadra’s attorneys — Paul Galante, Mike Senape, and Steve Menn — argued that if prosecutors present Kerekes’ statements at trial, the jury might be prejudiced. In a joint trial, defense lawyers for Cuadra would be unable to challenge Kerekes, thereby denying Cuadra his right of confrontation toward statements made by Kerekes.

Cuadra’s attorneys also have asked for a change of venue or to have a jury brought from outside of Luzerne County, Pa., where they claim that pre-trial publicity may affect potential jurors impartiality.

They also requested that photographs of the victim not be displayed at trial, claiming them to be “inflammatory.” They motioned to have comments made by Cuadra to the police disallowed at trial, saying that their client was not properly informed of his rights at the time. They also motioned for several pieces of evidence to be kept out of the trial, including a conversation recorded at a San Diego beach not long after the Kocis murder, as well as property seized from their client’s former residence in Virginia.

Judge Peter Paul Olszewski Jr. will rule on the motion once prosecution attorneys have filed their response to the motions.