State prosecutors are considering refiling witness intimidation charges against Wyoming Valley attorney Shelley Centini and private investigator James Sulima, a spokeswoman for the Attorney General’s Office said Thursday.
Meanwhile, double-homicide suspect Hugo Selenski, 40, who will face charges he attempted to coerce witnesses in his homicide case to alter their testimony, is scheduled to return to the Luzerne County Courthouse today on another request to continue his frequently delayed murder trial.
Charges of intimidating witnesses in Selenski’s homicide case against Centini, 38, and Sulima, 49, were dismissed Wednesday by District Judge David Judy in Royalton, Dauphin County.
“We are exploring our legal options,” said Carolyn Myers, spokeswoman for Attorney General Kathleen Kane.
Those legal options include the refiling of 24 counts consisting of intimidation of witnesses, criminal conspiracy, perjury, criminal solicitation and theft with the same district judge. A special request must be filed with the Dauphin County Court of Common Pleas for another district judge to hear the preliminary hearing.
Centini’s lawyer, Al Flora, and Sulima’s attorney, Bill Ruzzo, said during their closing arguments and afterward that the AG office should never have opened an investigation based on a referral from the Luzerne County District Attorney’s Office.
A witness in the homicide case, Michael Shutlock, filed a complaint with the District Attorney’s Office after he was given a hand-written letter from Selenski by Centini and Sulima at Rob’s Pub and Grub restaurant in Larksville on July 23, 2012. Three other witnesses were given letters the same night as Shutlock, according to testimony and a 13-page grand jury presentment.
Selenski wrote the letters as friendly correspondences, asking about their families, and he asked what they remembered on certain dates.
He said on Wednesday his last known phone call “as a free man” was to Jason McEvoy on June 5, 2003, when the bodies of Michael Kerkowski and Tammy Fassett were found buried outside the Kingston Township house where he lived.
McEvoy said he was on his way to the house to help Selenski clean an in-ground pool when he was turned away by authorities when they converged onto the property. McEvoy was one of the witnesses who received a letter from Selenski.
Ruzzo said the witnesses were not intimidated and did not become afraid by what was in their letters. If the letters were a big deal, Flora and Ruzzo said, the District Attorney’s Office and the attorney general would have issued subpoenas for the letters immediately instead of waiting 13 months until August 2013.
The letters were never found. Flora and Ruzzo said the letters contained “defense strategy.”
Selenski’s trial is scheduled on Nov. 12. His lawyers, Edward Rymsza, Bernard J. Brown and Hugh C. Taylor, are expected today to ask for the trial be postponed until 2015.
Brown and Taylor replaced Centini, who was removed from the case on Feb. 10.
Fassett’s sister, Lisa Sands, said she has endured “too many times” trial delays due to changes of attorneys and judges and appeals since Selenski was charged in May 2006.
“This whole case and how it has been handled from the get-go has been a three-ring circus on a ferris wheel ride,” Sands said.