Cosmo Dinardo and Sean Kratz, charged in the July slayings of four young area men in Solebury Township, were arraigned this afternoon before Bucks County President Judge Jeffrey L. Finley.
Both men entered formal pleas of not guilty to multiple charges of criminal homicide, abuse of corpse, robbery and conspiracy, as well as possession of instruments of crime and firearms charges.
Dinardo, 20, of Bensalem, faces four counts of criminal homicide in the deaths of Jimi Taro Patrick, 19, of Newtown Township; Dean Finocchiaro, 19, of Middletown Township; Thomas Meo, 21, of Plumstead Township; and Mark Sturgis, 22, of Pennsburg, Montgomery County.
Kratz, 20, of Northeast Philadelphia, is charged with the deaths of Finocchiaro, Meo and Sturgis, but not Patrick.
Finley said he would meet soon with attorneys in the case to agree upon a schedule for discovery deadlines, pretrial motions and, ultimately, a trial date.
Both suspects remain imprisoned without bail – Dinardo in the Bucks County Correctional Facility and Kratz in the Northampton County Prison. The men are being housed separately as a safety precaution.
Under questioning by Finley, both men said they knew that the District Attorney’s Office had filed notice reserving its right to seek the death penalty against them.
The filings, attached below, list three aggravating factors that the Commonwealth would seek to prove should it choose to pursue the death penalty against either suspect.
They are: 1) that the murders occurred during the commission of a felony, 2) that the defendants are guilty of multiple murders, and 3) that the murders occurred during the commission of a drug-related felony. After the arraignment, District Attorney Matthew D. Weintraub emphasized that the death-penalty notice does not mean that prosecutors have decided to seek a death sentence against either defendant, only that they have preserved their right to do so.
Weintraub told reporters that he intends to honor an agreement struck with Dinardo in July not to seek the death penalty against him. The agreement was contingent on Dinardo’s admission of guilt and his full cooperation, including directing investigators to the location of Patrick’s body, which was still missing at the time.
“We’re the District Attorney’s Office; we honor our agreements,” Weintraub said. “So should Mr. Dinardo agree to uphold his end of the bargain, we will not seek the death penalty against him.
“However, if we uncover additional evidence or he wishes to go to trial, that’s his prerogative. We will be prepared and we will at that time seek the death penalty.”
As for Kratz, Weintraub said, no decision on the death penalty has been made, “but it is a very, very real possibility.”
Prosecutors allege that Dinardo lured the victims to a sprawling Solebury property owned by his parents with the promise of selling them marijuana, but killed them instead.
According to a probable cause affidavit, Dinardo has acknowledged fatally shooting every victim except Finocchiaro, whose death he blamed on Kratz. The affidavit states that Kratz acknowledges being present for three of the slayings, but claims that Dinardo did all the killing.
Dinardo is accused of fatally shooting Patrick on July 5 and burying his body near the top of a small mountain on the remote property.
Finocchiaro, Meo and Sturgis were shot and killed two days later, with Kratz present, the probable cause affidavit states. Their bodies were found in 12-foot-deep common grave elsewhere on the same property.
When Patrick’s remains failed to turn up in the grave shared by the other victims, Weintraub offered to forego seeking the death penalty for Dinardo in return for information helpful to the investigation. That information led searchers to Patrick’s body.
Dinardo faces additional felony charges of illegally possessing firearms, theft by unlawful taking and receiving stolen property. Court records say he was prohibited from possessing firearms because he had been involuntarily committed to a mental health treatment center, and that he stole and tried to sell Meo’s car after the shootings.
“We intend to stay the course until this case is brought to a resolution and we can get justice for the four boys that were murdered,” Weintraub said.
The case is being prosecuted by First Assistant District Attorney Gregg D. Shore and Deputy District Attorney Kate Kohler.
Source: Bucks County District Attorney’s Office