Jurors at the capital murder trial of
gay porn star Harlow Cuadra have heard from several former escort
clients and the gay porn star investigators allege Cuadra killed for,
During two weeks of testimony in a
Luzerne County, Pennsylvania courthouse the lurid details of dueling
porn empires, a “million” dollar twink-boy film, and the eventual
murder of a porn king began to unravel.
Cuadra, a former Navy enlisted man, is
accused of the January 2007 murder of porn producer Bryan Kocis, 44,
a man who had turned a bankrupt life around by peddling twink boys in
bareback videos online.
Kocis' body was found by firemen
responding to a fire at the porn king's Dallas Township house on the
night of January 24, a Wednesday, his neck slashed to the point of
near decapitation and his torso stabbed 28 times.
Investigators allege Cuadra, 27, and
his lover, Joseph Kerekes, 35, who were involved in gay online
pornography and escorting themselves, are responsible for the murder.
The two plotted to kill the porn producer in an effort to cut free
Kocis' biggest star, Sean Lockhart, from his contractual obligations,
Last December, Kerekes pleaded guilty
to second-degree murder and is now serving a life sentence without
the possibility of parole after admitting he knew of and helped
facilitate the murder.
During the trial's second week, jurors
heard from Lockhart, the adult video star Kocis had mentored into a
porn sensation and whom Cuadra and Kerekes coveted.
Lockhart, 22, spent hours on the
witness stand telling jurors that Cuadra desperately wanted to appear
in adult movies with him.
Kocis had built his Cobra Video gay
porn business off the backs of barely legal young boys; his most
lucrative star was Lockhart, who starred in several videos under the
name Brent Corrigan. The two met on the Internet when Lockhart was
living in San Diego and desperate for cash. But after being turned
into a porn star – and Kocis' part-time lover – Lockhart wanted
out, and new boyfriend, Grant Roy, wanted in as manager.
But a Kocis claim of ownership to the
copyright name of Brent Corrigan turned into a bitter court battle.
Defense lawyers for Cuadra advanced the
theory that Lockhart and Roy were responsible for the death of Kocis
over that disagreement.
“Our defense is simple, Harlow didn't
do it,” defense lawyer Joseph D'Andrea told the jury in his opening
statement. “You'll hear that Grant Roy and Sean Lockhart hated
Bryan Kocis; they even wanted him dead. They (Kerekes and Cuadra)
had a male escort business, a male prostitution business. It was
money that motivated Joseph Kerekes; he prostituted his lover Harlow
to make money.”
But it was Lockhart and Roy, the jury
later heard, that aided police in their investigation.
A conversation that took place over
dinner at Crabcatcher's Restaurant near San Diego, California on
April 27 between the four men was recorded by a device planted by
police on Roy.
While Lockhart and Roy have testified
Cuadra has as much as admitted to killing Kocis, that evidence was
not on the recording. An inconsistency defense lawyers pounced on.
“Show me one spot in that transcript
where it says my client killed Bryan Kocis. I'll sit here for a week
if that's what it takes,” D'Andrea said while cross-examining Roy.
“I didn't say that,” Roy responded.
“I said in the context of the conversation he said he was there.”
Two former escort clients of Cuadra
testified he asked them to lie about his whereabouts on the night
Kocis was murdered.
Howard Mitch Halford, an Atlanta
computer consultant, initially told police investigators that he was
with Cuadra the night Kocis died, but later recanted. On the witness
stand, Halford, who says he is in love with Cuadra and donated
$70,000 for his defense, said Cuadra had asked him to lie.
Prosecutors also showed the jury a
letter dated June 13 titled “For your eyes only” which they say
was written to Nep Maliki, another escort client, by Cuadra where he
advised Maliki to tell police investigators that the pair were
together in Virginia on the night in question.
Lockhart and Roy, however, remain at
the center of this murder mystery. Cuadra's defense appears to hinge
on making the argument that Lockhart and Roy were responsible for the
D'Andrea characterized the relationship
Lockhart and Roy had with Kocis as “hostile.”
According to statements Roy made to gay
monthly Out, Cuadra, Kerekes, Lockhart and Roy had agreed to
produce a film starring Lockhart and Cuadra,
which they believed would be worth $1 million. Kocis, who had
yet to contractually release his former sex star, stood in the way of
their million dollar plan.
Theoretically, all four men had a
million dollar motive, and, in fact, Lockhart and Roy were considered
suspects early in the investigation. But alleged evidence submitted
by investigators – from car rental records to hotel receipts –
places Cuandra and Kerekes near the scene of the crime, hundreds of
miles away from the Virginia Beach, Virginia home they shared. And
the pair purchased a knife, a .38-caliber handgun and ammunition at a
Virginia Beach pawn shop just days before the murder, an employee
Harlow Cuadra could face the death
penalty if found guilty of the murder of Bryan Kocis.
The trial continues.