UPDATED: 5:01 p.m., Friday:
The noise of stomachs growling and sheriff’s deputies whispering to one another were nearly all one could hear in Courtroom 4010 in the Bucks County Justice Center Friday afternoon.
It was near dead quiet as the courtroom awaited the jury to enter and read their verdict in the Sean Kratz case, which has garnered local and national attention.
Every bench in the county’s largest courtroom was packed with county staff, the public, media, family and friends of the four young men murdered two years ago on a farm in Solebury, and Kratz’s own family, including his mother.
With the courtroom and Bucks County Judge Jeffrey Finley watching, the jury foreman – a middle-aged man – read that Kratz, 22, of Philadelphia, was guilty of first- and second-degree murder for the death of Dean Finocchiaro, 19, of Middletown, and voluntary mansalughter for the deaths of Finocchiaro, Thomas Meo, 21, of Plumstead Township, and Mark Sturgis, 22, of Pennsburg, Montgomery County.
Kratz was also found guilty of robbing Finocchiaro and abusing the corpses of all three men. The jury also found he was guilty of multiple counts of conspiracy and possessing an instrument of crime, possession of a weapon.
While the jury foreman read the charges, Kratz looked down and was handcuffed by two deputies. He just looked down.
Sniffles were heard from the side of the courtroom where the victims’ families were seated.
The judge let the alternate jurors go and told the 12 who deliberated for about 18 hours since Wednesday that they will begin the penalty phase of the case on Monday morning.
With the first-degree murder conviction, Kratz faces a mandatory sentence of life behind bars. Prosecutors have said they plan to seek the death penalty against the 22-year-old man.
The court was told that the penalty phase of the trial will include two to three days of evidence next week.
After the courtroom cleared and deputies prepared to take Kratz to a conference room, the young man looked at his family and supporters and said something quietly to them.
Under an ongoing gag order, prosecutors – First Assistant Attorney Gregg Shore and Kate Kohler – and the defense team – Charles Peruto, Julieanne Bateman, and Niels Eriksen – were unable to comment on the case.
The victims’ families were ushered out of the courtroom following the verdict and down a side staircase to the district attorney’s office.
Kratz’s family left with a security detail of deputies through the public hallway. They were escorted to the parking garage. Kratz’s mother was taken down the side stairway and picked up by a family member on the side of the Justice Center.
The prosecution said Kratz lied to them and was not upfront with detectives after he was questioned in the case. They showed video as he shifted the blame to his cousin Cosmo DiNardo, 22, of Bensalem, and took little responsibility for his role.
During the case, the prosecution pointed to the acts of the crime and how Kratz never went to get help or tell anyone there was a problem.
Peruto argued that his client, Kratz, was “scared to death” of his cousin, DiNardo. He framed DiNardo as “disturbed” and a “lunatic.” He said the young men would have been killed by DiNardo no matter if Kratz was there.
“Why would [Kratz] want any of these kids dead? What would he get out it?” Peruto asked the jury.
DiNardo lured the three young men to his parent’s farm with the sale of marijuana, but it was stated he intended all along to rob them and even kill them.
Kratz, according to prosecutor Shore, went with DiNardo to get cheesesteaks at Steve’s Prince of Steaks in Northeast Philadelphia following the murders. He took “blood money” DiNardo gave to him after taking it from the victims following the murders, Shore said.
The trial featured a number of photos of the crime scene and the young men’s bodies.
Kratz last year shocked everyone and rejected a plea deal that would have sent him to state prison for 59 to 118 years. Kratz would have been eligible for parole after 59 years.
DiNardo pleaded to a deal last spring that sent him away for four life sentences. Jimi Patrick, 19, of Newtown Township was killed on the farm by DiNardo before the other three men and Kratz had no involvement.
The jury returned a verdict in the Sean Kratz case at the Bucks County Justice Center in Doylestown Friday afternoon.
The jury foreman read the mixed verdict in court for Kratz, 22, of Philadelphia. Kratz looked down as the verdict was read.
Kratz is accused of shooting Dean Finocchiaro, 19, of Middletown, in the head inside a barn on his cousin Cosmo DiNardo’s family farm in Solebury in July 2017. He also allegedly acted as the lookout while his cousin, Cosmo DiNardo, 22, of Bensalem, murdered Thomas Meo, 21, of Plumstead Township, and Mark Sturgis, 22, of Pennsburg, Montgomery County. The young men’s bodies were later burned and buried in a 14-foot-deep pit.
Kratz, who was facing more than 20 charges, was found guilty of first- and second- degree murder for the death of Finocchiaro. He was also found guilty of manslaughter for Meo and Sturgis and abuse of a corpse for all three victims. The jury found him guilty of robbery relating to Finocchiaro and possession of an instrument of crime and possession of a weapon.
The jury did not find Kratz guilty of murder for Sturgis and Meo.
The penalty phase of the trial is expected to begin Friday afternoon.
Kratz’s trial began last Wednesday and has attracted attention from around the nation.
The jury began deliberations Wednesday morning. The deliberations lasted more than 17 hours.
Last year, Kratz backed out of a plea deal with prosecutors that would have sent him to state prison for 59 to 118 years.
Kratz’s cousin, DiNardo, 22, of Bensalem, accepted a deal in 2018 and received four life sentences in prison for the murders of Finocchiaro, Meo, Sturgis, and Jimi Patrick, 19, of Newtown Township. Patrick was killed by DiNardo on the farm days before the other three men.
Previous coverage of Sean Kratz’s trial:
- Man In Court Tells Kratz: ‘You’re Going To Burn In Hell’
- Jury Decides Fate Of Sean Kratz
- Jury To Begin Deliberations After Closing Statements In Sean Kratz Trial
- Cosmo DiNardo Refuses To Testify Against Sean Kratz
- In Video Interview, Sean Kratz Said Cosmo DiNardo Was ‘Raging’ Day Of Murders
- Sean Kratz’s Attorney Says Client Was ‘Idiot’ Who Was Afraid Of Cosmo DiNardo