Trial delayed in case of Bucks County farm deaths

A prosecutor called the move "gamesmanship."

Jim Melwert
October 29, 2018 - 12:00 pm
Sean Kratz and Cosmo Dinardo

Bucks County District Attorney's Office

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DOYLESTOWN, Pa. (KYW Newsradio) — Monday morning brought another delay in the case of Sean Kratz, the man who authorities say confessed to killing three men on a farm in Bucks County last summer, but then backed out of a guilty plea at the last minute.

Kratz was in court for what was supposed to be the first of three days of pretrial arguments. Instead, it was announced that he'd hired a new lawyer, Charles Peruto out of Philadelphia.

Instead of hearing arguments whether or not jurors should hear a confession Kratz gave as part of what was supposed to be a guilty plea, the judge delayed the hearing so Peruto could get up to speed.

Prosecutor Gregg Shore called the move "gamesmanship," pointing to the emotional anguish of the families as the process draws out. He added, "This will only strengthen our resolve against Mr. Kratz."

Court-appointed attorney Keith Williams is no longer on the case. He said he learned of Kratz’s decision through an email on Friday.

"We were ready to go forward," Williams said. "We understand Mr. Kratz has the absolute right to have an attorney of his own choosing rather than having someone court-appointed for him. I wish Mr. Peruto the best of luck."

Kratz is charged with the murders of Dean Finocchiario, Tom Meo, and Mark Sturgis. His co-defendant and cousin Cosmo Dinardo pleaded guilty to four counts of first-degree murder for those killings and also for the deadly shooting of Jimi Patrick a few days earlier.

Dinardo is serving four consecutive life sentences. 

Kratz gave a full confession, but backed out of his plea deal at the last minute. Prosecutors say they plan to seek the death penalty and plan to use his confession against him.

Kratz started to speak in court Monday, telling the judge "previously when I was offered third-degree murder, I was offered 20-40 years—" before the judge cut him off to recommend he instead speak with Peruto, his new attorney. After a brief conversation with his client, Peruto told the court it would be best if his client didn’t speak.

The families of the victims were all in the courtroom for the brief hearing.

In July 2017, according to Dinardo’s guilty plea, he and Kratz lured three men out to Dinardo’s family farm in Solebury Township to sell them marijuana. But instead they shot and killed the three men, tried to burn their bodies in a smoker, and buried them in a 12-foot hole before going out for cheesesteaks.