A trio of attorneys announced Monday that they have filed lawsuits against murder defendants Cosmo DiNardo and Sean Kratz. In addition, DiNardo’s parents and their construction businesses are also being sued.
The three separate but related lawsuits were filed by the families of murder victims Dean Finocchiaro, 19, of Middletown; Thomas Meo, 21, of Plumstead Township; and Jimi Patrick, 19, of Newtown Township. The court filings were wrongful death complaints.
At a press conference in Philadelphia, attorneys Thomas Kline from Kline and Specter; Robert J. Mongeluzzi from Saltz, Mongeluzzi, Barrett and Bendesky; and Carin A. O’Donnell from Stark and Stark stood with the victims families to announce the lawsuits related to the summer 2017 murders that took place on a large farm owned by the DiNardo’s in Solebury.
In the lawsuits, attorneys allege that the DiNardo family and their businesses did not recognize Cosmo DiNardo, 20, of Bensalem, was “unsuitable, unstable and potentially highly dangerous.” The lawsuits cited DiNardo’s past contacts with police, previous involuntary commitment, and his ban from the campuses of Holy Ghost Prep and Arcadia University in Montgomery County.
The lawsuits also said that the DiNardo family and their businesses did not prevent Cosmo DiNardo from accessing his mother’s handgun and business-owned backhoe and ATVs.
The 20-year-old was barred from legally possessing a firearm at the time of the homicides, which he admitted to as part of a deal with prosecutors.
“A gifted student on a full college scholarship to Loyola University Maryland, Mr. Patrick was idolized by his family and had everything to live for. Yet, he was not allowed to live out even his teenage years due to the brutality inflicted on July 5, 2017, with a .22 caliber rifle wielded by Cosmo DiNardo. Inexplicably, DiNardo was permitted to have access to unsecured firearms when it was illegal for him to do so because of his unhinged mental history,” O’Donnell said.
The backhoe, according to authorities, was used to kill Meo and bury the victims at the sprawling farm. The lawsuits state that DiNardo should have been unable to use the gun and backhoe at the time of the killings.
“This lawsuit is about what could and should have prevented the senseless killing of Dean and the other young men,” Kline told reporters.
The families of the victims spoke about their loss.
“We miss Jimi every day. There isn’t a day that goes by where I don’t cry or think of Jimi. He was so important in our lives. We just valued him so much,” said Sharon Patrick, Jimi Patrick’s grandmother with whom he was living with at the time of his murder, according to PhillyVoice.com.
“For us as a family, it’s a great loss. Nobody should ever have to deal with losing their child – and not in the way he was taken,” Bonnie Finocchiaro was quoted as telling reporters.
In court papers, authorities said DiNardo shot Patrick first with a rifle on July 5 and buried his body on a remote portion of the farm that featured woods and rough terrain. Later in the week, Finocchiaro was lured to the property and Cosmo DiNardo and Kratz killed him. Hours later, the two men killed Meo and Mark Sturgis, 22, of Pennsburg, Montgomery County, using a backhoe to run over Meo’s body.
Finocchiaro, Meo, and Sturgis’ bodies were then loaded in a pig roaster and a fire was set. The fire did not burn the bodies, authorities said.
After leaving the farm to get cheesesteaks in Philadelphia, Cosmo DiNardo and Kratz returned the next day and buried the bodies of the three young men about 12 feet underground near a large field, officials said.
The young men’s bodies were found after a wide-ranging search that involved law enforcement from around the county.
Cosmo DiNardo confessed to his alleged role in the crimes and struck a deal with prosecutors that would have him cooperate in exchange for the district attorney’s office not seeking the death penalty.
Cosmo DiNardo explained to detectives how the killings happened and provided them with other details. In exchange for leading authorities to the four missing men’s bodies, Weintraub talked with the victims’ families and they approved of prosecutors offering the deal.
Prosecutors filed aggravating circumstances motions late last year that will open the door for the district attorney’s office to go for a capital punishment sentence if the two are convicted of first-degree murder and at least one aggravating circumstance. District Attorney Matt Weintraub said in fall that the filing was standard and the previously agreed upon deal that would have DiNardo avoiding capital punishment in exchange for cooperation remains in place.
While DiNardo and Kratz are related, they were not close and a detective testified in summer that they were merely more than acquaintances.