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Cosmo DiNardo to serve life as cousin Sean Kratz rejects deal, faces death - News - Bucks County Courier Times Featured

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Cosmo DiNardo to serve life as cousin Sean Kratz rejects deal, faces death - News - Bucks County Courier Times

Cosmo DiNardo pleaded guilty to four killings and will serve life, while his cousin and co-defendant Sean Kratz faces death after balking at a plea agreement.

The paperwork was signed. Two separate agreements were in order.

In last year's Solebury quadruple murder case, Wednesday was supposed to be the end.

But while 21-year-old Cosmo DiNardo, of Bensalem, took his deal — four consecutive life sentences for a guilty plea to four counts of first-degree murder — his cousin got cold feet.

Sean Kratz, 21, of Northeast Philadelphia, rejected a Bucks County prosecutors' offer in open court during his afternoon hearing, passing up a negotiation that would have seen him jailed 59 to 118 years on a single count of third-degree murder. Now he faces a much stiffer sentence.

“We will be pursuing the death penalty against Mr. Kratz,” First Assistant District Attorney Gregg Shore said in court.

From the case's beginnings in July, Kratz had been seen as a secondary player with his cousin DiNardo considered the man at the helm of the July 7 killings of 19-year-old Dean Finocchiaro, of Middletown, 21-year-old Thomas Meo, of Plumstead, and 22-year-old Mark Sturgis, of Pennsburg.

DiNardo first admitted to those killings, as well as the July 5 slaying of Jimi Taro Patrick, 19, of Newtown, at the height of the investigation last summer. He entered his formal guilty plea Wednesday before President Judge Jeffrey L. Finley, admitting he shot each of the men, ran over Meo with a backhoe and buried them all on a sprawling Solebury farm owned by his family.

Prosecutors accused him of luring the men to the farm with the promise of selling them marijuana.

According to prosecutors, Kratz confessed to shooting Finocchiaro in an audio-recorded interview he gave to investigators last month, and agreed to plead guilty to his role. He also allegedly agreed to admit to acting as a lookout while DiNardo burned and buried the bodies of the three men killed July 7.

As prosecutors' sole focus now, Shore said he intends to use the recording in his case against Kratz.

Kratz admitted in court that he agreed to the terms of the now-defunct plea deal, which Shore said was reached after “extensive consultation” with the victims' families.

Asked in court by his attorney Craig Penglase, Kratz said he still understood all aspects of the offer, including the fact it was the final and best offer he could hope to receive.

“Yes, sir,” Kratz responded in a quiet, nervous voice.

Kratz said he no longer wished to proceed with the offer, and wanted instead to take his case to trial.

Asked if he would approve a new deal for Kratz should the defendant reconsider, District Attorney Matthew Weintraub spoke unequivocally after the hearing.

“No deal. That's no longer on the table. He rejected it. We're going forward,” he said. He added that he “does not relish” pursuit of the death penalty, but it “is what we've been sworn to do.”

Primarily a spectator at DiNardo's hearing in the morning, Weintraub took a more active role when it came to Kratz. In the final tense moments of delay ahead of Kratz's hearing, Weintraub could be seen following Kratz's defense attorneys Penglase and Niels Eriksen to a holding area outside the Doylestown Borough courtroom in a last ditch effort to save the plea agreement.

“We had a cordial conversation. I kept my emotions in check. He was resolute. I was incredibly disappointed, but that's his right,” Weintraub told reporters of the meeting.

After the hearing, Penglase said the results of the hearing were “unexpected,” but declined to comment further saying the case is now set for trial.

Weintraub, consulting with Shore, said he does not expect the case to come to trial any time soon.

He added he was pleased with the outcome of DiNardo's hearing, which seemed to have gone essentially as planned.

DiNardo admitted without incident to counts of first-degree murder in each of the four men's deaths, as well as charges of abuse of a corpse, possession of an instrument of crime, unlawful possession of a weapon and related conspiracy counts.

During the emotional two-hour hearing, Finley heard victim impact statements from a dozen family members of the four slain men, all of them expressing inconsolable grief at the loss of their young sons, brothers and nephews.

“You’re a perfect example of someone who started at the top and worked your way down to the gutter,” said Sturgis’s father, Mark Potash.

Potash labeled the grisly murders “thrill killings” and called DiNardo a “wannabe.”

“Your only way out of prison is wearing a toe tag and that’s the least we all deserve,” he said.

Questioned by his attorney Fortunato Perri Jr., DiNardo said he understood that, despite his mental health issues, evaluations by two mental health professionals concluded an insanity defense was not applicable in his case.

“As we can see through this situation, mental illness is real, mental illness is sad and sometimes it can be tragic,” Perri said as DiNardo's family filed out of the courtroom after the hearing.

DiNardo's longtime attorney Michael Parlow added that the case was “tragic for everybody,” noting that, like his victims, DiNardo also comes from a large and loving family.

Speaking by phone Wednesday evening, Parlow said based on discussions he had with his client in the lead up to his plea, he believes his client was sincere when he spoke in court, “even if he didn't sound it.”

Speaking for himself, DiNardo offered an apology to his victims' families.

“If there was anything I could do to take back what occurred on those days I would,” he said. “I can't even come to terms with what occurred. I'm sorry.”

The judge didn't buy it, saying he listened to recordings of DiNardo's confession and found his apology “false and insincere.”

Finley said he found DiNardo to possess “total disregard” for human life.

“I have no doubt in my mind that should the day ever come that you were released again into the community and had the opportunity to kill again, you would do it,” he said.

Read more http://www.buckscountycouriertimes.com/news/20180516/cosmo-dinardo-to-serve-life-as-cousin-sean-kratz-rejects-deal-faces-death

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