Thursday, July 10, 2014





Selenski murder trial back on hold


February 16. 2013 10:19PM


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WILKES-BARRE ‚?? The Sept. 10 trial of double-murder suspect Hugo Selenski appears to have been put on hold indefinitely after defense attorneys notified the judge presiding over the case they intend to file an appeal to the state Supreme Court.


Judge Fred Pierantoni said in a one-page order Wednesday that after an Aug. 30 meeting with attorneys involved in Selenski‚??s case, defense attorneys told him an appeal petition will be filed with the state‚??s high court.


In turn, Pierantoni said the Sept. 10 trial date is void pending the outcome of the Supreme Court‚??s decision.


Defense attorneys have until Sept. 27 to appeal a ruling made late last month by the state Superior Court, rejecting their argument that Selenski‚??s trial for the deaths of Michael Kerkowski and Tammy Fassett constituted double jeopardy -- a constitutional protection that precludes a person from being tried twice for the same crime.


Attorneys in the case cannot comment because of a court-imposed gag order.


Selenski, 39, could face the death penalty if convicted.


The Supreme Court can either accept or reject hearing the appeal. Selenski‚??s trial schedule cannot be reset until the court rules.


Investigators allege Selenski killed Kerkowski and Fassett at Kerkowski‚??s home on May 3, 2002 while trying to force Kerkowski to reveal where he had hidden drugs and money.


Selenski and his co-defendant, Paul Weakley, then buried their bodies at the property where Selenski lived on Mount Olivet Road in Kingston Township, it is alleged. The bodies were found in June 2003.


Selenski had been charged previously with the May 2003 deaths of Frank James and Adeiye Keiler. Prosecutors allege Selenski lured the alleged drug dealers to his home, killed them and burned their bodies.


A Luzerne County jury acquitted Selenski of the slayings in March 2006, convicting him only of abuse of corpse.


Selenski‚??s attorneys, Shelley Centini and Edward Rymsza, argued the charges in the Kerkowski/Fassett case should have been tried at the same time as the James/Keiler case because they arose out of the same criminal episode.


The defense said all of the victims were found at the same location, both homicides were connected to drugs and money and both crimes involved the same investigators and primary witnesses.


A three-member panel of the Superior Court found there were sufficient differences in the cases to support separate trials.




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