A judge has held both defendants accused in the Solebury Township, Pennsylvania, killings of four young men for trial in October.
On Thursday, 20-year-old Cosmo DiNardo waived his preliminary hearing by video from the Bucks County Correctional Center, sending his case on to trial.
In a subsequent hearing for co-defendant Sean Kratz, Bucks County Assistant District Attorney Gregg Shore sought to give a more complete account of the gruesome killings that transfixed the region and the country.
Over a three-day span in July, Dean Finocchiaro, 19; Thomas Meo, 21; Mark Sturgis, 22; and Jimi Tar Patrick, 19, mysteriously disappeared. An investigation by the FBI and local police zeroed in on a property owned by DiNardo’s parents on Lower York Road in Solebury Township, where the victims’ bodies were later recovered.
Calling Detective Martin McDonough to the stand, the prosecution walked him through Kratz’s statements to police about what happened on Friday, July 9.
Kratz initially said he spent time with DiNardo, whom police documents describe as his cousin, before going home.
“Little by little,” said McDonough, “his story changed.”
In time, McDonough said, Kratz described riding with DiNardo to pick up Finocchiaro, whom the two had talked about robbing. They drove to the Lower York Road farm property where Finocchiaro and DiNardo went into a barn, according to Kratz’s statements.
Kratz said he heard gunshots and — when he saw Finocchiaro was dead — he vomited. Kratz said they tried to hide the body by putting it in a metal drum and lighting it on fire.
“He explained to Kratz that there were two more boys coming and that he was going to kill them and rob them,” McDonough said.
Those men were Sturgis and Meo, whom DiNardo killed by shooting them and running over Meo with a backhoe, according to Kratz. After putting all of the bodies in the drum, DiNardo and Kratz went to Steve’s Steaks in Philadelphia.
DiNardo confessed to killing Patrick by himself two days prior.
During the search for the four men’s bodies, DiNardo confessed to having a role in the killings, according to his defense attorney, Paul Lang.
The county district attorney’s office took the death penalty off the table in exchange for information from DiNardo on where the bodies were buried.
During Kratz’s hearing, his attorneys sought to distance him from the killings, saying that he didn’t plan or participate in them.
“According to your client, everything was Cosmo DiNardo’s idea,” said McDonough, during cross-examination.
Kratz limped into the courtroom, and his attorneys also pressed McDonough to describe his physical appearance at the time, noting that he used crutches to get around.
Kratz’s attorney Erik Nielsen said after the hearing that Kratz had been shot 19 times at a prior incident in the Mayfair neighborhood of Philadelphia.
During each appearance, the victims’ families filled three rows in the courtroom, for a brief glimpse of the main defendant.
“The Finocchiaros have been doing terribly,” said their civil attorney, Tom Kline. “They are in grief, they are in mourning, they lost a son who had a future in front of him.”
With the death penalty no longer an option, “they are committed to see that Mr. DiNardo spends the rest of his life in jail,” he said.
Kline’s firm has represented several high-profile loss-of-life cases in recent years, including families who lost loved ones in the collapse of the Salvation Army Building on Market Street in Philadelphia. Melissa Fratanduono, Meo’s mother, hired his partner, Robert Mongeluzzi.
In addition to the homicides and affiliated charges, DiNardo will stand trial on charges of illegally possessing a firearm and attempting to sell a stolen vehicle, which belonged to Meo.
Correction: An earlier version of this story misidentified the month the killings took place.