Prosecutors in Pennsylvania moved to hold onto their ability to seek the death penalty against two cousins accused of killing four men that were found buried on a Bucks County, Pennsylvania, farm earlier this year.
The Bucks County prosecutor's office filed Wednesday a notice of aggravating circumstances in the charges against Cosmo DiNardo and Sean Patrick Kratz, according to online court records.
The filings came a day before the cousins pleaded not guilty to multiple charges of murder and corpse abuse in the July slayings on DiNardo's family farm outside New Hope.
DiNardo, of Bensalem, allegedly confessed to authorities that he'd been involved in killing Dean Finocchiaro, 19, of Middletown Township; Mark Sturgis, 22, of Pennsburg, Montgomery County; Tom Meo, 21, of Plumstead Township; and Jimi Taro Patrick, 19, of Newtown Township.
Kratz, of Philadelphia, faces charges related to three of the slayings.
Prosecutors said capital punishment would be justified because there were multiple murders and the slayings were committed during commission of a felony and drug felonies.
Lawyers have said DiNardo acknowledged his part in the slayings and told authorities where to find the body of the fourth victim in exchange for prosecutors agreeing not to seek the death penalty. District Attorney Matt Weintraub termed Wednesday's 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."
Authorities said in court documents that DiNardo said he lured the four men to the sprawling farm owned by his parents under the guise of marijuana transactions before killing them there. All four were shot and three were set on fire and placed in an oil drum that was buried. The body of Patrick was found in a separate grave after DiNardo told police where to look, authorities said. Kratz is charged in three of the homicides. His lawyer has vowed a vigorous defense.