Man pleads guilty, but cousin re­jects deal

The Mercury (Pottstown, PA) - - FRONT PAGE - 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, 21, 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.

Di­Nardo’s plea was all but cer­tain af­ter he con­fessed last sum­mer and agreed to help au­thor­i­ties find the body of 19-year-old Jimi Taro Pa­trick, who was a stu­dent at Loy­ola Uni­ver­sity Mary­land, 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.

“Men­tal ill­ness is real, men­tal ill­ness is sad, and some­times it can be tragic,” lawyer For­tu­nato Perri said.

Di­Nardo, the scion of a wealthy fam­ily, dab­bled in deal­ing mar­i­juana and cus­tomiz­ing sneak­ers and por­trayed him­self on so­cial me­dia as “a sav­age.”

He showed him­self hold­ing guns and would send ag­gres­sive mes­sages to women he found at­trac­tive. Au­thor­i­ties saw him as the mas­ter­mind of the killings.

Po­tash called Di­Nardo a “per­fect ex­am­ple of some­one who started at the top and worked your way down to the gut­ter.”

“You think you’re sav­age?” Po­tash said. “You’ve lived your whole life pro­tected. In prison, you’ll meet sav­age. And I prom­ise you, it won’t look like you.”

Po­lice found the men af­ter a five-day search. Stur­gis, Meo and Finoc­chiaro were lit on fire and placed 12-feet (3-me­ters) deep in an oil tank con­verted into a cooker Di­Nardo called the “pig roaster.”

Pa­trick’s grand­par­ents, who raised him since birth, asked Di­Nardo to pray for them and for his mother, who they say is men­tally ill, so that some­day they might be able to for­give him.

“My heart is bro­ken, and I will never, ever be the same,” Sharon Pa­trick said.

Di­Nardo was ex­pres­sion­less as he pleaded guilty to charges in­clud­ing first-de­gree mur­der, con­spir­acy, rob­bery and abuse of a corpse.

“If there is any­thing I could do to take it back, I would,” said Di­Nardo. “I can­not come to terms with what oc­curred. I’m so sorry.”

Judge Jef­frey Fin­ley dis­missed that as “false and in­sin­cere.”

“To you, hu­man lives are dis­pos­able,” Fin­ley told Di­Nardo. “They have no value.”

The fam­i­lies of the slain men are su­ing Di­Nardo’s par­ents, An­to­nio and San­dra Di­Nardo, who own the Sole­bury farm prop­erty and con­struc­tion and con­crete com­pa­nies in Ben­salem, where they live.

The fam­i­lies say Di­Nardo’s par­ents shouldn’t have al­lowed him ac­cess to a gun, which was barred by law due to his com­mit­ment.

In his con­fes­sion, Di­Nardo ac­knowl­edged sell­ing hand­guns to lo­cal res­i­dents. Five months be­fore the killings, po­lice charged him with hav­ing a shot­gun. In­ves­ti­ga­tors say he used at least two guns in the killings.

“My fam­ily re­ceived a life sen­tence,” Dean Finoc­chiaro’s fa­ther, Anthony, told Di­Nardo. “I pray that Dean’s spirit haunts you the rest of your mis­er­able life.”

MATT ROURKE — THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS FILE

In this file photo, a law en­force­ment of­fi­cial es­corts Cosmo Di­Nardo to a ve­hi­cle in, Doylestown, Pa. Di­Nardo has pleaded guilty to mur­der charges in the grue­some killings of four young men whose bod­ies were found buried on a sub­ur­ban Philadel­phia farm. Di­Nardo faces life in prison un­der the terms of the deal reached Wed­nes­day.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.