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Challenge pending in Kocis case

Lawyers for one homicide suspect given time to dispute evidence.



WILKES-BARRE – A hearing scheduled Monday for prosecution and defense attorneys in the murder case against homicide suspects Joseph Kerekes and Harlow Cuadra has been continued, giving attorneys for Cuadra the chance to file a motion to suppress evidence.

The hearing began Monday with testimony from Detective Matthew Childress from the Virginia Beach Police Department, who obtained search warrants for Kerekes and Cuadra’s home regarding an unrelated Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) case.

Evidence seized from both the house and vehicle of Kerekes and Cuadra has been entered as evidence in the homicide case.

Kerekes, 34, and his partner, Harlow Cuadra, 27, both from Virginia Beach, Va., were stopped and arrested by Virginia Beach authorities while driving on Virginia Beach Boulevard, according to court records, shortly after investigators in Pennsylvania filed criminal homicide charges in the January 2007 slaying of Bryan Kocis, 44, in Dallas Township.

Kerekes’ attorneys, John Pike and Shelley Centini, claim that “Virginia authorities possessed no warrant for (Kerekes’) arrest, nor did (Kerekes) commit any motor vehicle offense which would authorize a traffic stop,” according to court papers.

After Kerekes and Cuadra were arrested, their vehicle was later searched by Virginia authorities and certain items were seized, Centini and Pike said. One of the items taken from their vehicle, according to court records, was a knife.

Luzerne County assistant district attorneys Michael Melnick, Shannon Crake and Allyson Kacmarski are seeking the death penalty for Kerekes and Cuadra if they are convicted. Prosecutors claim in court records that Kerekes and Cuadra killed Kocis, whom they considered their main rival in the gay pornographic film industry.

Luzerne County Court of Common Pleas Judge Peter Paul Olszewski Jr. said Cuadra’s attorneys, Stephen Menn and Michael Senape, have 10 days to receive paperwork from prosecutors with all evidence in regard to a motion by the defense. The hearing is continued until then.

“Mr. Cuadra did not receive all the information. It wasn’t intentional on the commonwealth’s part,” Olszewski said, stating it was merely an oversight.

Olszewski said that due to the severity of the proceeding he would allow the 10 days for Cuadra’s attorneys to make a decision to join the motion, stating that since the trial isn’t scheduled until January 2009, there is plenty of time to sort things out.

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