By: Laurie Mason Schroeder, The Morning Call
December 14, 2017
The deal prosecutors made with Cosmo DiNardo to spare him the death penalty in exchange for his cooperation in helping police find the body of one of four Bucks County men he allegedly killed and buried on his family’s Solebury farm could be off the table if DiNardo fights the charges, court records show.
District Attorney Matt Weintraub on Wednesday filed a notice of aggravating circumstances in the case, which is a formal notice that prosecutors may seek capital punishment if DiNardo, 20, is convicted.
The move came one day before DiNardo and his cousin, Sean Kratz, 20, are scheduled to be formally arraigned in Doylestown on a long list of charges, including multiple counts of homicide, kidnapping and abuse of a corpse. That hearing is the deadline for filing the notice.
Weintraub categorized the filing as “covering his bases” in case circumstances change.
“We have to make sure we have the right to proceed in seeking the death penalty in case he reneges on his deal,” Weintraub said. “Whether he honors his end of the agreement is up to him.”
DiNardo’s attorneys, Michael Parlow and Paul Lang, did not return phone calls seeking comment Wednesday.
Court records show that another attorney, Philadelphia lawyer Fortunato Perri, joined DiNardo’s defense team this week.
We have to make sure we have the right to proceed in seeking the death penalty in case he reneges on his deal.— Bucks County District Attorney Matt Weintraub
DiNardo’s lawyers have not indicated whether he will fight the charges. DiNardo has a history of mental health issues and sustained a serious head injury following an all-terrain vehicle accident last year, lawyers said at a prior hearing.
Kratz is also facing the possibility of a death sentence if convicted. In identical filings for the cousins, prosecutors listed the aggravating factors: that the alleged killings were committed in the course of a felony, that there were multiple alleged murders, and that the alleged killings were carried out while in the perpetration of a felony drug offense.
Kratz’s attorneys, Craig Penglase and Niels Eriksen, said their client plans to fight the charges, and questioned why Kratz is being treated the same as DiNardo.
“We are disappointed and confused by today’s action of certifying Mr. Kratz ‘s case for capital punishment,” Eriksen said. “DiNardo is the admitted killer. We look forward to challenging the evidence and the aggravators at the appropriate time.”
DiNardo and Kratz were arrested in July following a five-day manhunt that drew international attention to the region.