Kratz sentenced to life in prison after Bucks DA takes death penalty off the table

In this Monday, July 2, 2018 photo, four photos, from left, of Jimi Patrick, Tom Meo, Dean Finocchiaro, and Mark Sturgis are placed in a kitchen cabinet window in the home of the grandparents of Patrick, nearing the anniversary of the murders of the four young men in Bucks County in July 2017. Cosmo DiNardo and his cousin Sean Kratz, both 21, were charged in the killings the next day, July 14. (David Swanson/The Philadelphia Inquirer via AP)

In this Monday, July 2, 2018 photo, four photos, from left, of Jimi Patrick, Tom Meo, Dean Finocchiaro, and Mark Sturgis are placed in a kitchen cabinet window in the home of the grandparents of Patrick, nearing the anniversary of the murders of the four young men in Bucks County in July 2017. Cosmo DiNardo and his cousin Sean Kratz, both 21, were charged in the killings the next day, July 14. (David Swanson/The Philadelphia Inquirer via AP)

Judge Jeffrey L. Finley sentenced Sean Kratz to life in prison plus 18 to 36 years for the murder and burial of three men on a Bucks County farm in 2017.

Kratz was convicted of first- and second-degree murder Friday in the death of Dean Finocchiaro and of voluntary manslaughter in the deaths of Mark Sturgis and Tom Meo. Kratz’s cousin, Cosmo DiNardo, is serving four consecutive life sentences for the murders of those men and one other.

The sentencing came after Bucks County District Attorney Matthew Weintraub announced Monday that prosecutors would not pursue the death penalty, persuaded by one of the victim’s families.

“I am awed by the grace demonstrated by the Finocchiaro family in helping me to make this difficult decision to not pursue the death penalty against the defendant,” Weintraub said in a written statement. “But I am reminded that we do this not for the defendant’s benefit, but for our own.

“It is the right thing to do, and now this criminal saga is over. I hope that the families … can take solace that both DiNardo and Kratz will die in prison for what they did to their boys.”

With the death penalty off the table, Kratz was automatically sentenced to life in prison as a result of the first- and second-degree murder charges. Judge Finley added the extra time after hearing tearful statements from the victims’ families on the impact of Kratz’s actions.

Kratz’s lawyer, Charles Peruto, said he would appeal his client’s conviction.

On a confession tape, Kratz described DiNardo luring Finocchiaro to the 100-acre farm on July 7, 2017 under the premise of selling him marijuana. Kratz says DiNardo gave him a gun and made him take Finocchiaro for a ride on a four-wheeler into the woods, where he was supposed to kill him, but that he couldn’t do it.

Kratz brought Finocchiaro back to the farm’s barn, where he said DiNardo forced him to use the gun. Kratz said he closed his eyes and shot Finocchiaro, wounding him. DiNardo took the gun and shot again, killing Finocchiaro.

Later that same day, DiNardo lured Meo and Sturgis to the farm for another supposed drug deal. DiNardo shot them while Kratz stood watch. DiNardo ran over Meo’s body with a backhoe and then both bodies were loaded into the drum of a pig roaster along with Finocchiaro’s. DiNardo doused the bodies with gasoline and set them on fire, first trying to do so with a box of matches and, when that didn’t work, using Kratz’s lighter.

Authorities closed in on the DiNardo farm, thanks to a signal from Finocchiaro’s cellphone, as well as Meo’s car, which was found nearby with his insulin inside. Authorities discovered the bodies, which were buried 12-feet underground, on July 8, 2017.

Kratz had been offered a plea deal in 2018 for third-degree murder, but at the last minute, he backed out of the deal and sent the case to trial. Had Kratz taken the plea, he would have gotten 59 to 118 years in prison.

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