In closing, defense argues Kratz acted out of fear; prosecutors call it cold-blooded murder

Jim Melwert
November 12, 2019 - 5:49 pm
Sean Kratz

Bucks County District Attorney's Office

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NORRISTOWN, Pa. (KYW Newsradio) — After four days of roller-coaster testimony, closing arguments have wrapped up in the case of Sean Kratz, the man accused of killing three people on a Bucks County farm in 2017. The jury will start deliberations Wednesday morning.

In closing arguments, defense attorney Charles Peruto said Kratz was terrified of his cousin, Cosmo DiNardo. 

Peruto argued DiNardo proved he didn’t need Kratz, when DiNardo killed and buried Jimi Patrick on his own a couple days earlier to the other three men. 

He said Kratz fired a shot into Dean Finocchairo’s head because he was scared for his own life if he didn’t participate. And, Peruto said, Kratz’s fear of DiNardo prevented him from getting help after Finocchiaro was shot and before Tom Meo and Mark Sturgis were brought to the farm and subsequently killed.

Based on that fear, Peruto said the worst case for Kratz is manslaughter. He told the jury if they believe Kratz did what he did out of fear, then he should be found not guilty.  

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But prosecutor Gregg Shore said Finocchiaro, Meo and Sturgis would have been alive if it were not for Kratz’s actions. Shore said no reasonable person would have pulled the trigger unless they had the intent to kill Finocchiaro, and that, Shore said, makes this murder.

Shore also argued Kratz was holding the murder weapon for nearly two hours before Finocchiaro was killed. He said Kratz had numerous chances to alert people to the danger — or, he could have driven Finocchiaro off the property while they were riding ATVs before he was killed. 

He noted Kratz controlled the gun before, during and after the shooting.

As the families prayed and hoped for the well-being of their loved ones, the investigation turned into one of “epic proportions,” Shore said. During that time, Kratz’s phone records show he was searching online for sneakers and watching porn.

Later, Shore said Kratz and DiNardo got cheesesteaks, purchased with the blood-money of the men they killed.

Kratz didn’t take the stand 

Kratz previously gave a recorded confession to detectives, more than an hour long, admitting he killed Finocchiaro and was present when his cousin killed Meo and Sturgis. It was originally part of a guilty plea to third-degree murder, which Kratz backed out of at the last minute.

In opening statements, Peruto told jurors to disregard the confession, saying Kratz was coerced into it by his attorney at the time. He said the lawyer sold Kratz out "for future draft picks," Peruto alluded. 

Plus, Peruto told jurors they would hear directly from Kratz

However, after three witnesses testified on Tuesday, the defense rested without calling Kratz or that lawyer to the stand. Kratz told the judge he made the decision not to testify.

Peruto did call on DiNardo's parents. He tried to ask them if they were scared of their son and his “propensity for violence,” but the judge barred that line of questioning based on objections from the defense.

The final witnesses for the prosecution were the parents of Sturgis and Finocchiaro. Sturgis' mother said the hardest part was waiting while they were searching the Solebury farm. All she wanted to do was run past the barrier “to be with my son, to sit next to him,” she said.

There were also expectations that co-defendant DiNardo, who is serving four consecutive life sentences, would take the stand, but a Bucks County detective said he refused the subpoena from state prison on Friday.

Jury deliberations begin Wednesday morning.