Bucks man pleads guilty to killing four; cousin re­jects plea deal

The Times Herald (Norristown, PA) - - NEWS - By Michael R. Sisak

DOYLESTOWN, PA. » Two cousins ac­cused of killing to­gether could find them­selves pit­ted against one an­other in court after one took a plea deal Wed­nes­day and the other re­jected one in the grue­some deaths of four young men found buried last sum­mer on a sub­ur­ban Phil­a­del­phia farm.

Prosecutors vowed to seek the death penalty against Sean Kratz after the 21-year-old stunned prosecutors, vic­tims’ fam­i­lies and even his own lawyer in turn­ing down an of­fer that would have put him in prison for at least 59 years.

“Un­ex­pected out­come,” said Kratz’s lawyer, Craig Pen­glase.

Cosmo DiNardo, the cousin who ear­lier in the day pleaded guilty to four counts of mur­der in ex­change for a life sen­tence, could be forced to tes­tify at Kratz’s trial, District At­tor­ney Matthew Wein­traub said. No trial date has been set. The 21-year-old DiNardo’s plea was all but cer­tain after he con­fessed last sum­mer and agreed to help au­thor­i­ties find the body of 19-year-old vic­tim Jimi Taro Pa­trick in ex­change for avoid­ing the death penalty.

Au­thor­i­ties saw DiNardo, a men­tally dis­turbed son of priv­i­lege, as the mastermind of the plot that in­volved lur­ing the men to his fam­ily’s farm, am­bush­ing and killing them, burn­ing their bod­ies and crush­ing one with a back­hoe be­fore bury­ing them.

Kratz was charged in three of the deaths but would have pleaded guilty to mur­der and con­spir­acy charges against one vic­tim, 19-year-old Dean Finoc­chiaro.

DiNardo’s plea gave so­lace to a griev­ing fa­ther who turned to the stone-faced killer and told him: “Your only way out of prison is wear­ing a toe tag.”

“That’s the least we all de­serve,” said Mark Potash, the fa­ther of 22-year-old vic­tim, Mark Stur­gis.

Melissa Fratan­duono, the mother of 21-year-old vic­tim Tom Meo, cursed at DiNardo, say­ing it has “taken ev­ery­thing” for her not to kill him her­self.

DiNardo has a his­tory of men­tal ill­ness, in­clud­ing an in­vol­un­tary com­mit­ment and a schizophre­nia di­ag­no­sis, but his lawyer said men­tal health pro­fes­sion­als weren’t sure they could have pre­sented an in­san­ity de­fense.

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