Extension after extension gives more rights to suspect than victim, Lisa Sands says.

Last updated: April 08. 2013 11:26PM - 2115 Views
By - elewis@timesleader.com - (570) 991-6116

Lisa Sands holds a picture of her sister, Tammy Fassett, in February 2012.
Lisa Sands holds a picture of her sister, Tammy Fassett, in February 2012.
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MESHOPPEN — Lisa Sands said she is concerned about additional delays in the case of double-homicide suspect Hugo Selenski after learning his attorneys want to quit the case.

Selenski’s attorneys, Shelley Centini and Edward Rymsza, filed a motion on Friday seeking to withdrawal from the case, claiming they have not been paid since October.

“The way this case has been going is a circus. Where are my sister’s rights? (Selenski) has more rights than my sister (homicide victim Tammy Fassett),” Sands said Monday.

Next month will mark seven years since Selenski, 39, was charged in the flex-tie killings of Sands’ sister and Michael Kerkowski, both 37. Selenski is facing the death penalty if he is convicted. Fassett and Kerkowski were reported missing in 2002 and were presumed dead. Their bodies were found in 2003.

Selenski’s trial has been frequently delayed due to appeals mostly filed by his defense lawyers through the years. The latest appeal filed in November by Centini and Rymsza remains untouched by the state Supreme Court.

Centini and Rymsza are challenging a ruling by Luzerne County Judge Fred Pierantoni that kept the homicide charges active against Selenski.

If a judge permits Centini and Rymsza to leave, it will be the second time Selenski’s lawyers have left the case. John Pike and Robert Buttner were granted their release by former Judge Joseph Van Jura in November 2011.

When Pike and Buttner withdrew, the court hired Centini and Rymsza in January 2012 as independent contractors to defend Selenski.

Sands said she wants to scream and yell and has been warned by a judge pounding a gavel to be quiet when she spoke up during Selenski’s pre-trial hearings.

If no one wants to listen to her in county court, Sands said she is taking her concerns to the Supreme Court or the U.S. Attorney’s Office over the handling of the often-delayed Selenski trial.

“I’ve been told to keep my mouth shut, and I can’t take it anymore,” Sands said. “I’m going to scream, yell and cry until someone listens to me. This is ridiculous. I want justice for my sister’s murder and justice is being denied.”

Sands threatened once before to file a complaint with the state Judicial Conduct Board about the way the case has moved slowly through Luzerne County Court.

Court records indicate the Selenski case has been assigned to six county judges since May 2006.

Sands said the latest development with the Selenski case is too much to bear.

If a judge allows Centini and Rymsza to leave, Sands said, the trial, which is not scheduled due to the appeal filed with the Supreme Court, will likely be postponed even longer.

Prosecutors have 120 days to schedule the trial when the Supreme Court issues a ruling on the latest appeal.

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