Cousins charged in eastern Pa. shooting deaths of 4 men plead not guilty

Written by Anthony Izaguirre/The Associated Press | Dec 15, 2017 2:35 AM

FILE PHOTO: A law enforcement official escorts Cosmo DiNardo to a vehicle Thursday, July 13, 2017, in Doylestown. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

(Doyelstown) -- Two cousins charged in the deaths of four young men found shot and buried deep on a sprawling farm in eastern Pennsylvania say that they didn't kill anyone.

Cosmo DiNardo and Sean Kratz pleaded not guilty to multiple charges of murder and corpse abuse in the July killings.

DiNardo is charged in four of the deaths, and Kratz is charged in three. Neither of the cousins, who are 20 years old, spoke about the case during their separate arraignments, which drew dozens of the victims' friends and family members.

The not guilty pleas at the arraignments in Doylestown came days after authorities filed court documents that would allow them to pursue the death penalty for the cousins.

DiNardo's attorneys have said he admitted killing the men and told authorities where to find one of the bodies in exchange for prosecutors agreeing not to seek capital punishment.

Bucks County District Attorney Matthew Weintraub said prosecutors are "on track" to reach a deal with DiNardo.

"We made an agreement with Cosmo DiNardo. We're the district attorney's office: We honor our agreements," he told reporters. "So should Mr. DiNardo decide to uphold his end of the bargain, we will not seek the death penalty against him."

Kratz's lawyer Niels C. Eriksen Jr. said he commended the district attorney for extending to DiNardo an offer that removes the death penalty as punishment but was "disappointed and confused by today's action of certifying Mr. Kratz's case for capital punishment."

"DiNardo is the admitted killer," he said. "We look forward to challenging the evidence and the aggravators at the appropriate time."

A defense lawyer for DiNardo pushed past a throng of reporters and TV cameras without commenting on the case.

Authorities have said Kratz gave them conflicting narratives about the killings but told them that his cousin was responsible for the deaths and that the pair went out for cheesesteaks afterward.


Law enforcement officials walk down a blocked off driveway in Solebury, Bucks County, as the search resumes Tuesday, July 11, 2017, for four missing young Pennsylvania men feared to be the victims of foul play. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

The disappearances of Mark Sturgis, Tom Meo, Dean Finocchiaro and Jimi Taro Patrick over the summer sparked an exhaustive manhunt on a 90-acre farm owned by DiNardo's parents in Solebury, 30 miles north of Philadelphia.

The victims ranged in age from 19 to 22. Patrick was a Loyola University of Maryland student.

Police used cadaver dogs and heavy construction equipment and brought in dozens of officers from the region to assist in the search until they finally found three of the men buried in an oil tank about 12-feet in the ground.

DiNardo told police that he crushed one of the men with a backhoe after shooting him and tried to set three of the bodies on fire before burying them in the metal container, court documents show. He also told authorities that he lured the men to the farm under the assumption he was going to sell them marijuana.

A lawyer representing the family of Finocchiaro said the family wants Kratz and DiNardo put to death.

"The day of reckoning," attorney Tom Kline said, "is coming."

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