Cuadra, Kerekes Trial Postponed Until January
Cuadra and Kerekes are charged with the Jan. 24 murder of Cobra Video owner Brian Kocis. The trial had originally been slated to enter court on March 24, but was moved to Sept. 2 because defense attorneys for Cuadra and Kerekes requested more time to make adequate preparations for trial.
Cuadra and Kerekes are set to stand trial on charges of homicide, robbery, arson, abuse of a corpse and conspiracy to commit murder. The two both face the death penalty in the case.
Attorneys are expected to mount a mental-infirmity, or insanity, defense if they are convicted for the murder, according to Wilkes-Barre newspaper the Times Leader.
According to Pennsylvania’s CitizensVoice.com, Luzerne County Judge Peter Paul Olszewski Jr. said he had no choice but to move the trial to January because attorneys for both defendants argued their preparation had been hampered by the dismissal of two colleagues last month.
“I obviously have no control over it at this point,” Olszewski said in the courtroom. “I’m telling everybody right now, there will be no additional continuances.”
Shelley Centini, who represents Kerekes, asked for the postponement. Centini said the removal last month of Mark Bufalino from Kerekes’ defense team left the remaining attorneys unprepared.
Olszewski ruled last month that Bufalino and Paul Galante, an attorney for Cuadra, could no longer serve on the case because the two attorneys work for the same law firm — the Wilkes-Barre office of Elliott Greenleaf.
They all are members of Luzerne County’s conflict counsel pool, which is a separate group of publicly funded attorneys assigned to cases when a defendant is unable to retain a private attorney and a public defender cannot be used because of a conflict of interest.
In May the father of Brian Kocis won a lawsuit on behalf of Kocis’ estate that accused Kerekes and Cuadra of “jointly” or “separately” causing Brian Kocis’ death and destroying his home and property. The judgment ruled in favor of the estate because neither defendant had responded to the civil suit.
Both defendants claim that they cannot afford a lawyer and are being represented by public defenders in the criminal trial.
Falvello said that he has knowledge that the defendants have assets that have been seized. The assets were seized when charges of racketeering, conspiracy to launder money and conspiracy to receive money from the earnings of prostitution were filed against Cuadra and Kerekes in Virginia, last July.
Olszewski, who had previously been resistant to moving the trial, said he is committed to beginning the trial on Jan. 5.