HARRISBURG, Pa. (Reuters) – One of two Pennsylvania men charged in the killings of four young men who were lured to a farm with the promise of marijuana was sentenced on Wednesday to life in prison after pleading guilty to murder.
Shackled and wearing an orange jump suit in a Doylestown, Pennsylvania, courtroom, Cosmo DiNardo apologized to the families of the four victims, three of whom authorities said were shot dead and burned in a pig roaster by DiNardo and his cousin, Sean Kratz.
“I just want the poor families to know, I am so sorry,” DiNardo, 21, told a packed Bucks County Court of Common Pleas. “If there is anything I could do to take back what happened, I would do it.”
But Judge Jeffrey Finley, who sentenced DiNardo to four consecutive life terms, called his apology “false and insincere” in light of his taped description of his crimes, which he called chilling.
“After committing these offenses, you two went out and had a cheese steak and then went on as if nothing had occurred,” Finley said.
DiNardo confessed to murder to avoid the death penalty, according to Bucks County District Attorney Matthew Weintraub. He then entered a not-guilty plea at his arraignment in December, but later changed it to guilty as part of a deal with prosecutors.
His co-defendant, Kratz, 21, of Philadelphia, who faces three counts of criminal homicide and related charges and has made no deal with prosecutors, is scheduled to have a hearing later on Wednesday.
In addition to first-degree murder, DiNardo pleaded guilty to robbery, abuse of corpse, and possession of instruments of crime.
The bodies of three victims – Dean Finocchiaro, 19, of Middletownship, Mark Sturgis, 22, of Pennsburg, and Thomas Meo, 21, of Plumstead Township – were found in a common grave at DiNardo’s family’s farm in Solebury Township in July 2017.
DiNardo later led authorities to the nearby buried body of the fourth victim, Jimi Patrick, 19, of Newtown. DiNardo was charged with killing Patrick, but Kratz was not.
All four victims were shot after being lured to the farm last July with the belief that DiNardo would sell them marijuana, according to criminal court documents.
Several family members of the victims gave searing statements, saying their lives had been destroyed.
“You did it simply because you could,” said Mark Potash, the father of Sturgis. “No one was watching. These were thrill killings. You know and I know … you played out your sick fantasies.”
The families of the victims have filed wrongful death suits against DiNardo’s parents and their construction company, saying he should not have had access to guns due to previous mental health issues.
Writing by Peter Szekely; Editing by Bill Berkrot and Paul Simao