A high-profile attorney had joined the defense team for accused killer Sean Kratz.
Kratz, 21, of Philadelphia, was in court at the Justice Center in Doylestown Borough Monday morning for a pre-trial hearing before President Judge Jeffrey Finley.
After replacing court-appointed attorney Keith Williams with private Philadelphia attorney Charles Peruto Jr., the pre-trial hearings scheduled for this week were push until January 2019. Court-appointed attorney Niels Eriksen will continue to represent Kratz.
Fox 29 reported that Williams said he learned he was off the defense team via an email from Peruto’s office on Friday.
One reason for the delay in pre-trial hearings is the fact that Peruto will have gain certification in Pennsylvania to defend his client in a case where the death penalty is an option.
First Assistant District Attorney Gregg Shore reportedly called the changes “gamesmanship” while in court.
“This will only strengthen our resolve against Mr. Kratz,” he said, according to KYW Newsradio.
Finley said in court that he wanted the cause to move forward to trial in the new year.
Kratz is in his current position after rejecting the Bucks County District Attorney’s Office’s negotiated plea deal in May. The move that shocked his attorneys and prosecutors threw away a negotiated deal that would have seen him go to prison for 59 to 118 years. After 59 years, the now-21-year-old defendant would be eligible for parole.
Kratz will face multiple charges of homicide, conspiracy, robbery and related offenses stemming from the summer 2017 killings of Dean Finocchiaro, 19, of Middletown; Thomas Meo, 21, of Plumstead Township; and Mark Sturgis, 22, of Pennsburg, Montgomery County, at his upcoming trial. His cousin Cosmo DiNardo, 21, of Bensalem, is also accused of killing the three young men and Jimi Patrick, 19, of Newtown Township. In May, he was sentenced to four consecutive life terms in prison.
In court papers obtained by NewtownPANow.com in summer, prosecutors alleged that Kratz showed a gun in September 2016 to his 9-year-old brother and threatened to “blow his brains out.” He also said he would kill his sister.
Due to the incident pointed out by prosecutors, Kratz was involuntarily committed by his mother from September 21 to September 29, 2016 at Friends Hospital in Philadelphia. Court papers filed by prosecutors said Kratz was committed for “violent tendencies.”
Months before the murders at the DiNardo family farm in Solebury, Kratz was shot 19 times while in Northeast Philadelphia. At the time of his arrest for his alleged role in the Solebury homicides, he walked with a limp due to his injuries from the March 2017 shooting.
Kratz has seen turnover in his legal team before. Shortly after he rejected his plea deal, attorney Craig Penglase left due to a “potential conflict of interest” and he later admitted to leaking the tapes of recorded confessions made to the Bucks County Detectives last summer. The tapes ended up appearing on NBC 10.
Mark Sturgis’ family filed a civil lawsuit related to his homicide last year. In March, Finocchiaro, Meo, and Patrick’s families filed wrongful death complaints against the DiNardo families and their business.