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