DOYLESTOWN, Pa. (AP) — A man was convicted Friday for his role in the slayings of three young men who were lured to a suburban Philadelphia farm where they were shot, set on fire and buried.
Sean Kratz, 22, showed little emotion as he was convicted of first-degree murder, robbery and other offenses, dropping his head and staring at the defense table as the verdict was read. The jury, which deliberated nearly 18 hours over three days, must now decide on a sentence of death or life in prison. The penalty phase starts Monday.
The Philadelphia man went to trial after rejecting an earlier plea deal. His cousin, 22-year-old Cosmo DiNardo, who was identified as the leader of the plot, pleaded guilty and was sentenced to life in prison.
Bucks County prosecutors said DiNardo lured the victims to his family's Solebury farm in 2017. Authorities said Kratz shot 19-year-old Dean Finocchiaro in the head and served as a lookout while DiNardo killed Mark Sturgis, 22, and Tom Meo, 21. The victims’ bodies were burned in a makeshift pig roaster and buried in a 12-foot-deep (3.5-meter-deep) hole.
Kratz was convicted of first-degree and second-degree murder for killing Finocchiaro and voluntary manslaughter in connection with the other two victims.
Prosecutors said the victims went to the farm because DiNardo had promised to sell them a large quantity of marijuana. Kratz and DiNardo were "on a mission to kill, rob, burn and bury bodies,” Assistant District Attorney Kate Kohler told jurors.
She rejected the defense claim that Kratz was coerced by DiNardo, saying he could have called for help or even turned the gun on his cousin. She called the slayings "just something fun to do that day because they could."
One of the victims survived his gunshot wound, but Kratz told police that DiNardo then ran over him with a backhoe.
After the killings, prosecutors said, Kratz and DiNardo went for cheesesteaks.
There was a possibility that DiNardo would testify at his cousin’s trial, but prosecutors said he rejected their subpoena. Kratz did not take the stand in his own defense.
DiNardo also confessed to killing another man two days earlier.
During the trial, jurors heard a recorded confession that Kratz made as he was preparing to plead guilty to third-degree murder. Kratz wound up rejecting the offer, which would have put him in prison for at least 59 years for the crimes.
His attorney, A. Charles Peruto Jr., said Kratz was manipulated into giving the confession.
Prosecutors and the defense are under a gag order in the case and declined comment after the verdict.