Last updated: April 17. 2014 11:41PM - 3971 Views
By - elewis@timesleader.com

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WILKES-BARRE — The conga line of attorneys for double-homicide suspect Hugo Selenski continues.

Luzerne County Judge Fred Pierantoni III on Thursday appointed attorney Bernard J. Brown, of Carbondale, to assist co-defense attorney Edward Rymsza, who was appointed to Selenski’s defense team in January 2012.

Brown and Rymsza are death penalty-qualified lawyers.

Pierantoni also assigned attorney Hugh C. Taylor III to provide assistance to Brown and Rymsza.

Brown is to earn $85 per hour to be paid monthly with a fee cap of $40,000. Brown’s earnings on Selenski’s defense could be higher with good cause, according to Pierantoni’s order.

Taylor is to keep earning his $28,000 compensation as a conflict attorney in Luzerne County.

Brown replaces attorney Shelley Centini, whom Pierantoni removed from defending Selenski in February after she, Selenski and private investigator James Sulima were charged by the state Office of Attorney General with intimidating prosecution witnesses.

Selenski, 40, is accused in the flex-tie strangulation killings of Michael Kerkowski, 37, and Tammy Fassett, 37, on May 3, 2002. Their bodies were unearthed from a shallow grave outside a house on Mount Olivet Road, Kingston Township, on June 5, 2003, where Selenski resided with his then girlfriend Christina Strom.

Selenski’s has had multiple defense lawyers since he was charged in October 2003, with killing two men, Frank James and Adeiye Keiler, at the Kingston Township home.

• Demetrius Fannick, John Pike and Stephen Menn successfully defended Selenski on criminal homicide charges for James and Keiler during a two-week trial in March 2006. Fannick, who defended Selenski without compensation, withdrew as Selenski’s lawyer after the trial.

• David Lampman represented Selenski on escape charges when he climbed down a rope made from bedsheets from the fifth floor at the county prison on Oct. 10, 2003.

• Wieslaw Niemoczynski, of Monroe County, defended Selenski during a kidnapping and robbery trial in Monroe County in July 2009. Selenski was convicted in the home invasion of a jewelry store owner and was sentenced to 32 1/2 to 65 years in state prison.

• John Pike and Stephen Menn defended Selenski from 2003 through 2011. Menn left the case when he resigned as a conflict attorney, and a judge permitted Pike to leave, citing defense strategy differences with Selenski.

• Michael Senape was appointed to Selenski’s defense team after the March trial. Senape was permitted to leave in 2010 when he resigned as a conflict attorney.

• Thomas Marsilio was appointed to co-defend Selenski in June 2010, only to be quickly released due to a conflict of interest with a prosecution witness.

• Robert Buttner co-defended Selenski with Pike and Menn for several years until he was permitted to leave the case in 2012.

• Selenski represented himself for two months in November and December 2011.

• Centini and Rymsza were appointed in January 2012. Centini was removed from the case in February amid witness tampering allegations by the state Office of Attorney General.

A pre-trial hearing is scheduled on May 7, with the double homicide trial tentatively set for May 19.

Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty if Selenski is convicted with first-degree murder.

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