Last updated: March 16. 2013 10:03PM - 1300 Views
By - elewis@timesleader.com

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Luzerne County prosecutors were successful in asking the state Superior Court to fast-track an appeal filed by Hugo Selenski in August.

But prosecutors made no such request to the state Supreme Court when Selenski, 39, filed his latest appeal in November.

It has been more than two months since Selenski, through his attorneys, Shelley Centini and Edward Rymsza, filed a petition with the Supreme Court to hear their appeal.

No action has been recorded since the appeal was filed on Nov. 16, according to court records.

Centini and Rymsza are challenging an Aug. 3 decision by Luzerne County Judge Fred Pierantoni III that denied a request to dismiss criminal homicide charges against Selenski.

He is facing two counts of criminal homicide in the killings of Tammy Fassett and Michael Jason Kerkowski on May 3, 2002. Their bodies were found in a shallow grave outside a Kingston Township home where Selenski lived on June 5, 2003, when the charred remains of Frank James, Adeiye Keiler and an unidentified person were discovered.

Centini and Rymsza believe the Fassett/Kerkowski case should have been tried the same time Selenski had a trial for the deaths of James and Keiler because they arose out of the same investigation.

Investigators believed James and Keiler were killed in May 2003 during the purchase of crack cocaine at the Kingston Township house.

Selenski was cleared in the killings of James and Keiler but was convicted of burning their corpses.

Art Heinz, spokesman for the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts, said prosecutors often ask the Supreme Court to speed up or expedite appeal cases.

A recent case that was fast-tracked in the Supreme Court was the Voter ID law in 2012.

First Assistant District Attorney Sam Sanguedolce, the lead prosecutor in the Selenski case, said he could not comment due to court-imposed gag order.

Selenski‚??s trial has frequently been continued over the years due to appeals. The case also was handled by six judges until it was assigned to Pierantoni in January 2012.

Pierantoni had scheduled the trial to begin Sept. 10, 2012, but it was continued indefinitely until the Supreme Court decides to hear Selenski‚??s double jeopardy claim.

The long wait has taken a toll on Fassett‚??s sister, Lisa Sands, of Meshoppen.

‚??This has become a joke,‚?Ě Sands said. ‚??We‚??ve been waiting for all these years. He has more rights than my sister. What about my sister‚??s rights and our right for justice? We‚??re being victimized by these nonsense delays.‚?Ě

Timeline of events in Selenski case

May 3, 2002: Michael Kerkowski and Tammy Fassett killed at his Hunlock Township home.

May 14, 2003: Investigators said Adeiye Keiler and Frank James were killed at the Mount Olivet Road, Kingston Township, home Selenski shared with his then girlfriend Christina Strom.

June 4, 2003: Paul Weakley tells a Luzerne County detective the bodies of Kerkowski and Fassett were buried outside the Mount Olivet Road home.

June 5, 2003: Investigators execute search warrants at the property and find Selenski in the yard preparing for a graduation party. The bodies of Kerkowski and Fassett were found and unearthed from a shallow grave.

Oct. 6, 2003: Selenski and Pat Russin charged in the slayings of Keiler and James.

Oct. 10, 2003: Selenski escapes from the Luzerne County Correctional Facility.

Oct. 13, 2003: Selenski voluntarily surrenders from the Mount Olivet Road home.

Nov. 6, 2003: Russin pleads guilty to two counts of third-degree murder in the slayings of Keiler and James.

March 1, 2006: After a two week trial, a jury acquits Selenski in the slayings of Keiler and James but found him guilty of burning their bodies.

May 19, 2006: Selenski and Paul Weakley charged in the deaths of Kerkowski and Fassett.

January 2008: Criminal homicide charges against Weakley are dismissed. Weakley then charged by the U.S. Attorney‚??s Office, Scranton, with conspiracy to engage in racketeering, which includes the murders of Kerkowski and Fassett.

June 2008: Weakley sentenced by a federal judge to life in prison.

Sept. 16, 2010: Selenski pleads guilty to escape. Sentenced to time served.

Sept. 1, 2011: Selenski permitted to represent himself.

November 2011: Selenski requests attorneys to defend case.

Jan. 5, 2012: Judge Fred Pierantoni III assigned to preside over case.

Jan. 6, 2012: Attorney Shelley Centini appointed to defend Selenski.

Jan. 24, 2012: Attorney Edward Rymsza appointed to co-defend Selenski.

April 23, 2012: Trial continued to allow Centini and Rymsza more time to prepare.

Aug. 3, 2012: Pierantoni denies request to dismiss homicide charges.

Aug. 7, 2012: Centini and Rymsza file appeal with Superior Court.

Aug. 28, 2012: Superior Court declines to hear appeal to dismiss homicide charges.

Sept. 10, 2012: Centini and Rymsza file request for all Superior Court judges to hear appeal.

Oct. 18, 2012: Superior Court declines to hear appeal.

Nov. 16, 2012: Centini and Rymsza file appeal with Supreme Court.

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