Selenski homicide trial set for November
Double homicide suspect Hugo Selenski will finally stand trial in November, a Luzerne County judge ruled Wednesday.
But Selenski was quick to doubt that will happen, predicting more delays.
Luzerne County Judge Fred Pierantoni said Selenski’s trial for a pair of 2002 murders will begin Nov. 12 “barring any unforeseen circumstances.”
Many judges have made similar pledges over the years, but the 40-year-old’s trial has been continuously delayed, most recently due to a grand jury investigation that led to witness tampering charges against Selenski and his defense team.
“No one is more anxious to commence this trial than me,” Pierantoni said.
Pierantoni tried to enforce a May 12 trial date, but Selenski’s attorney Edward Rymsza said that was “completely unrealistic” because Selenski’s new lead attorney Bernard Brown hasn’t even had a chance to obtain the tens of thousands of documents associated with the case, let alone review them.
Brown was unable to attend Wednesday’s pretrial hearing because he is the defense attorney in the ongoing high-profile Frank Bonacci murder case in Lackawanna County.
Brown and attorney Hugh Taylor joined Selenski’s defense team in April due to a vacancy created by the departure of Shelley Centini, who represented Selenski for two years before she, Selenski and a defense investigator were charged with witness tampering in January.
Luzerne County First Assistant District Attorney Sam Sanguedolce told Pierantoni that prosecutors were ready to proceed, but didn’t object to a delay so Brown could be caught up to speed on the case.
“It’s not our intention to handcuff the defense,” Sanguedolce said.
Leaving court, Selenski doubted the trial would take place by the date set by Pierantoni.
“You don’t even have to ask, no, I don’t think it will go in November,” Selenski said while being led from court.
Selenski had threatened to fire his new attorneys and represent himself, but he said he remained unsure when asked by reporters Wednesday.
Selenski is charged in the 2002 killings of pharmacist Michael Kerkowski and Kerkowski’s girlfriend, Tammy Fassett, whose bodies were found buried in the yard of Selenski’s Kingston Township home in June 2003.
Selenski was charged with those killings on March 15, 2006 - minutes after being cleared of an unrelated set of double homicide charges in Luzerne County Court.
Selenski remains jailed at State Correctional Institution at Mahanoy, serving a sentence of 32½ to 65 years for a Monroe County home invasion and robbery.
Pierantoni on Wednesday ruled that jurors in the murder case will be allowed to hear evidence about Selenski’s role in the robbery, but not the verdict in that case.
They can be told about the verdict if Selenski takes the stand in his own defense, the judge said.