DOYLESTOWN — The prime suspect in last year’s brutal slayings of four young men on a rural Bucks County farm will serve four consecutive life sentences in the case, while his cousin rejected a plea deal and faces the death penalty.
Cosmo DiNardo, 21, of Bensalem, entered a guilty plea Wednesday morning at a scheduled “miscellaneous hearing” before Bucks County President Judge Jeffrey L. Finley, admitting to the July 5 slaying of 19-year-old Jimi Taro Patrick, of Newtown, as well as the July 7 killings of Dean Finnochiaro, 19, of Middletown, Thomas Meo, 21, of Plumstead, and Mark Sturgis, 22, of Pennsburg.
Prosecutors accused DiNardo of luring the men to the farm in Solebury Township, telling them he would sell them marijuana, and instead robbing and killing the men before mutilating, burning and burying their bodies. Solebury is about 45 miles northeast of Philadelphia.
Attorneys for DiNardo’s cousin and co-defendant, Sean Kratz, 21, said earlier Wednesday they expected their client to plead guilty to third-degree murder in a deal that would land him in prison from 59 to 118 years. In court, however, he rejected the deal.
During the emotional two-hour hearing, Finley heard victim impact statements from a dozen family members of the four slain men, all of them expressing inconsolable grief at the loss of their young sons, brothers and nephews.
“You’re a perfect example of someone who started at the top and worked your way down to the gutter,” said Sturgis’s father, Mark Potash.
Potash labeled the grisly murders “thrill killings” and called DiNardo a “wannabe.”
“Your only way out of prison is wearing a toe tag and that’s the least we all deserve,” he said.
DiNardo’s attorney, Fortunato Perri, spoke to reporters as his client’s family filed out of the courtroom.
“As we can see through this situation, mental illness is real, mental illness is sad and sometimes it can be tragic,” he said.
His co-counsel, Michael Parlow, said the case was “tragic for everybody,” noting that DiNardo too comes from a large and loving family.
First Assistant District Attorney Gregg Shore, after reading the deal in court, said his office would pursue the death penalty against Kratz.
His attorneys, Craig Penglase and Niels Eriksen, say Kratz, of Philadelphia, admitted to investigators late last month that he shot Finnochiaro inside a barn at the Solebury farm.
At the height of the investigation that put Bucks County in the national spotlight last summer, DiNardo struck a deal with prosecutors to avoid the death penalty in exchange for his cooperation and the location of Patrick’s body.