Monday, December 30, 2013

Victory Day 2013, Finale

"...all deaths born in the margins of the gay porn subculture that placed the pursuit of pleasure above all else."

And so it ends. I'm not sure how I feel about the "pursuit of pleasure" being tagged the root of it all, unless by that one means the pursuit of easy money in the gold rush environment all three parties cohabited in back then. In other words, I would define the grand overarching theme here a bit more narrowly.

That's the thing that linked all three of the corners of this murder triangle, really, in which the early chapters of the book did a good job of explaining. Kocis, Sean and Grant, and Harlow and Joe, all were players during this brief window in time, in which certain advances in consumer technology allowed amateurs to get into the gay porn industry, and make a bucketload of money with relatively little work and only a modicum of talent.

Kocis had staked his claim during the gold rush the earliest, and hence was the most successful, building up a solidly lucrative home business that was only terminated by his death. It's interesting to speculate on what might have happened to Cobra Video had there been no murder: Would Kocis' business to continue to thrive until the present day? Or, would the same collapse of the easy money gay porn bubble that lead to the financial problems of Harlow and Joe also have led to woes for Cobra? We'll never know.

Sean and Grant got into the game later, and were then hampered by civil legal distractions, and then later criminal legal distractions. As a result, by the time they got their own quality Brent Corrigan videos to market, the heady gold rush days of amateur gay porn were over. By all accounts they did well enough, but still, one wonders what they might have achieved had not years been wasted in court rooms from California to Pennsylvania.

And then there's Harlow and Joe. Of all the parties, no one better exemplifies the whole rise-and-fall aspect of this easy money period; from their nouveaux riches excesses with chinchilla coats and quick SRTs, to the fact that to this day, they are in still in denial about the fact that they were ever in financial difficulties...difficulties that unquestionably motivated them to murder.

I want to close with one last thing, something that was almost overlooked by the Kocisphere, but was found rather late. And with difficulty, as it was fairly inconspicuous.

On March 27, 2009, gay escort and blogger Benjamin Nicholas wrote one of his usual long, meandering blog posts. You can read it in the link above; he goes on and on and on about various crap, and then suddenly, out of the blue, he happens to casually mention the conviction of Harlow Cuadra. And that he worked with Harlow in a professional capacity before. And talked with him, and got a measure of the kind of person he really was:
"...I have worked with [Harlow] in an escort capacity in the past: Years ago we had been hired together on several occasions and, on a very superficial level, we'd chat back and forth. He seemed like a driven young guy, but one who was too involved with pie-in-the-sky concept to really make anything a reality. He often bragged about what material riches escorting afforded him (if you consider Outback steak dinners, liposuction and a used car 'riches') and where his adult career was headed once he got his start up studio off the ground. To me, he seemed perfectly nice, but like most performers I've met in the adult industry, perfectly stupid and suited best for whatever required the least work in life. People often times confuse nice with good. In this case, the two couldn't have been more different."
On this, I have several points to note:

1) Note that BN and Harlow are working together, on a job as equals. It's not Harlow talking to a client, it's not Harlow talking to a fan, it's not Harlow talking to a's Harlow talking to a fellow escort. An equal, a PEER, confidentially talking shop to one another. In other words, this is one of those cases where THE MASK DROPS, and we see the REAL Harlow Cuadra reveal himself.

2) And note what the real Harlow says: "...once he got his start up studio off the ground." Italics mine. Harlow is taking ownership and control of Boybatter here. Joe is not even mentioned.

3) And also note Harlow's character traits which come to the surface in these conversations: Harlow is pie-in-the-sky unrealistic, stupid and lazy.

Essentially, BN is painting a picture of Harlow as a product of the gay porn subculture PC mentions above. All this easy money rolls in initially to he and Joe, not because they were particularly hard working or clever, but merely because they happened to be situated in the right place at the right time when a financial bubble began to form.

And then, when the bubble bursts, and all that easy money begins to flow out as easily as it first flowed in...well, you can see the exceptional mental desperation that led them to murder. It's one thing to go from rich to poor. It's quite another to go from poor to rich and then poor again, realizing that going to rich in the first place was but a matter of luck.

I think a lot of the behavior of many of the principals in this saga, from Kocis to Sean and Grant to Harlow and Joe, can be best understood by understanding the bubble-ish environment they were all a product of.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Victory Day 2013, Part Six

Update 46: And finally, the where-are-they-now section for Harlow.

First of all, I don't begrudge him all his appeals. Getting to file fruitless appeals for the rest of his life was one of the advantages he bargained for when he refused to take the plea deal and allocute as Joe did, risking a death sentence in the process. So, might as well take advantage of that perk, since he did indeed earn it.

Although, it's funny when you think about it: Joe opted for the safe, secure, meek and humble path of the offered life sentence plea deal, while Harlow opted to put his life at peril by taking the aggressive, highly risky and hubristic path of going to trial. In other words, exactly the opposite personality traits supporters of Harlow would have us believe the two possessed.

Second, I gather that Harlow was politely asked by PC and Stoner to contribute to the book, and unlike Joe, refused? Or refused to respond? So, all we have to go on I guess are these prison letters to "Natasha."

What's interesting to about these letters is not so much what was said, but what was UNsaid. Just a bit of background: I think I've mentioned this before, but I've had a friend in prison before, who communicated with me a fair amount while behind bars. 

The letters from this friend of mine was VERY similar to the Harlow-Natasha letters, in that both constantly went on and on about the false hopes of appealing conviction. "[A]ccording to the legally inclined, the odds (of winning the appeal) are in our favor" is a virtually identical paraphrase of what my friend would write to me, over and over and over again. The similarity in both content and tone is uncanny.

But you know what was unsimilar between the two? Money. The letters from my friend, after going on about this or that pending aspect of the appeal procedure, would INVARIABLY wrap up with a plea for money. He'd need the money to pay an attorney to file this, or for more canteen funds, or to try to sell some items from his storage unit for needed cash, etc. And I've talked to others in the same boat as me, who have gotten prison letters from different inmates...they ALWAYS ask for money.

By contrast, the Natasha letters seem to contain no requests for money. In my experience, this is HIGHLY unusual. Did Natasha not publish parts of Harlow's letters asking for money? That seems unlikely; if anything she'd want to broadcast his plea and start up a Kickstarter.

Or perhaps Harlow never asked for money because he's got all the funding, legal, canteen, the works, that he ever could possibly need. This despite coming from a family of humble means.

And THIS gets back to a question we covered earlier...see past discussions of who's paying for Fannick, Mitch Hal(lford) the go-between, and the "mystery Senator." 

Mark my words folks, this is the last bombshell revelation in this saga, which has yet to be detonated yet. And when it goes off (I'm fairly sure it eventually will) it will be BIG.

Update 45: As for the investigators: "Higgins and Jolley said the investigation was "a huge effort."..." That, and the fact that they felt the need to consult with the county supervisors over the cost of this is very interesting. It goes back to my earlier point about the severe budget constraints Luzerne County was under. If Harlow and/or Joe had only taken advantage of that and pled early, I am certain a MUCH better deal could have been obtained.

Update 44: As to the section about the Kocis family moving on, the part I take issue with the most is the opinion of Bryan's sister on how blame for all this should be apportioned.

When you consider that Bryan knew, FOR A FACT, at the conclusion of the filming of Schoolboy Crush that Brent was only 17 (Bryan was tipped off Brent was underage, Bryan tested that suspicion by having a surprise ID check at the end of filming, and Brent decisively failed that test), and that he went ahead and edited, completed and sent off to his distributor what he knew FOR A FACT to be child pornography, you reach many conclusions. That "the victim was Bryan the whole time" is not one of those conclusions.

Bryan was every bit as culpable for the knowing production and distribution of kiddie porn as Chris Henriquez and Brent were, and unlike Brent he was never actively deceived as to the severity of the consequences of his actions.

As to the "rebranding" of Cobra Video with EuroMedia, has anything significant become of that deal since the book was published?

Update 43: As far as the rest of the where-are-they-now section for Brent goes, Albert comment below indicates that since the books publication, his planned move from the porn world to the non-porn world has come along even further:

"Sean is doing well. Missing some hair over his left ear from his recent fall. In addition to 'Truth' and 'Triple Crossed,' he has four more movies that will be released in the next year. He said that they treat him well but in the end it is not enough to pay the bills. Fleshjack has been a big help. He gets a little from the sales of each of his molded toys. With the two canadians out of the picture, I am pretty sure he remains their top seller. He is also a big draw at the nightclub circuit. I have also heard a rumor that Fleshjack may use him as their spokes model at the annual marketing conventions."

So, other than Fleshjack and the occasional nightclub appearances (as a dancer?) his porn career is done and over. People tried to force him out of the gay porn industry, but he persevered and eventually left by his own free will and under his own terms.

I will note at this point the failure of one of my past predictions. I predicted many times that we'd see a "Schoolboy Crush" reunion porn of sorts with Brent Everett. But obviously that's not going to happen now.

I must say I am quite surprised my prediction did not come to pass. Can you imagine the hype that would have preceded such a release? This video would have made a buttload of money. It is amazing to me that the vast financial incentives here could not overcome whatever hurdles needed to be hurdled to make this happen.

Update 42: Lockhart gets to make his denial.

If you just read the book only, this little section doesn't make too much sense. The book as we've already noted only mentions the intense suspicion he was under and accusations against him on the blogs in passing. So I imagine a non-Kocispherian would be a bit bewildered at reading this.

However, for those of us who were there, in the trenches, and saw first hand the daily relentless anonymous comments, pitching conspiracy theory after conspiracy theory, constantly trying to paint he and Grant as murderers, despite the growing overwhelming evidence Harlow and Joe committed this murder by themselves, this section makes perfect sense.

And he's right too, about none of them ever admitting they were wrong, and apologizing. Even after Joe pled guilty. They just silently slunk away.

Update 41: "Reporter Sue Henry from WILK Radio...noted that Cuadra took the stand against the advice of his attorneys..."

There's that discrepancy is again. It's clear that one official party line story went out before Harlow testified, and another contradicting it went out after. One wonders why?

Update 40: On to the end chapter and the interview with Joe. A few thoughts:

1) The impression I get here, what with his days at the prison gym, thoughtfully styled receding hairline, three full meals a day, family visits, taking his meds, following the rules, getting along smashingly with his that prison life is agreeing with Joe. "His biggest worry now, he says, is trying to overcome persistent insomnia."

It makes me think this was a big factor in Joe finally deciding to plea out. I think he came to the conclusion, in the months waiting for trial, "eh, general population prison life ain't too bad" and decided to forgo the impossible chance of an acquittal along with the real risk of ending up in the far less comfortable living conditions of death row.

2) His story about prosecutors hintingly threatening to charge his parents...I actually would not be too surprised if this turned out to be true. And if that was a factor in Joe's decision-making, well so be it. One could argue there was a bit of aiding and abetting on their part, after the fact, so the threat does seem legit.

3) Now here's the thing I wish AES had asked Joe about: Why did Joe not try to plea as soon as he was arrested?

We know from the end of Chapter 12 that this case cost Luzerne County a TON of money. $112,000 for the prosecution, plus $25,000 for the public defenders. That was the ONE AND ONLY bargaining chip Harlow and Joe had with prosecutors after they were was KNOWN that it was going to be expensive. They could have used that fact as leverage in plea negotiations to get some deal south of life in prison, HOWEVER, for every day they delayed, for every dollar towards that $137,000 the county spent, their ONE AND ONLY bargaining chip got pissed away.

We know Joe was talking to his jail cellmates early on about a plea deal. So why didn't he try for one, when his chances were at their highest?

Now, I will mention here what was going on about the Kocisphere, just after the arrest. Almost immediately the faction that was accusing Brent and Grant of murder began floating the idea of a conspiracy against Harlow and Joe, and that they hoped Harlow and Joe would fight, be found innocent, so that the "real killers" could be brought to justice. And indeed, after both Harlow and Joe made public declarations of total innocence, their excitement and glee could barely be contained. And the conspiracy theories ran wild.

What I WISH had been asked of Joe, in these book interviews, is this: "What role did outside encouragement play on the decision to refuse to plea initially? Did the public writings of people like Jason Ridge and John Roecker and perhaps others who write in multicolored paragraphs convince you and Harlow to essentially ruin your chances for a less-than-life sentence? Or did they go further, contact you guys directly, thus directly giving you the false hope which ruined both your lives?"

This is to me one of the greatest remaining mysteries about this case, for which my curiosity burns with a fervid intensity. Had these questions been asked, I think there is a good chance Joe would have found the desire to answer truthfully and thoughtfully.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Victory Day 2013, Part Cinq

Update 39: PC gets some great new interviews with the jurors. Most interesting comment being the feeling on the part of at least two of the jurors that Harlow's mom was perhaps hamming it up with some staged weeping near the path were the jurors would move to and fro.

"[R]easonable doubt went out the window when Cuadra opened his mouth" sayeth another juror, and it's clear the other 11 pretty much agreed with her.

Yet even in "hindsight" Harlow's lawyers say in the book (quoting a post-conviction interview) they HAD to do, given the state of the trial up to that point.

One problem I've always had with this post-trial reasoning, however, is that it directly contradicts what Harlow lawyers said during the trial. Just prior to Harlow taking the stand it, was reported that Harlow was "Going against his lawyer's advice not to testify,...".

This makes me wonder. Were Harlow's lawyers really the driving force behind the decision, as they claimed after the trial? Or were Harlow's lawyers simply being kind to Harlow, by taking the blame for his terrible unilateral decision against their advice?

Only ONE of those lawyers statements can be true. Is it the during-trial statement, or the post-trial statement?

My personal belief is that Harlow's lawyers were telling the truth in the first instance; that Harlow overruled their advice, and ordered them to put him on the stand. I base this on a number of factors, including Harlow's Kocisphere-related behavior, and how easy it was for him to dupe a wide range of bloggers and supporters, from Elm to Jason Ridge, into believing whatever lies he served up at the time. There were his own blog posts, both pre- and post-arrest, written with such overweening arrogance. And there were his tape-recorded efforts at image maintenance, which shows that he thought himself some sort of Svengali-like master of manipulation.

In short, he successfully suckered so many people in the past, he thought it would be a piece of cake to sucker just 12 more.

And it was that decision, according to the jurors, which sealed his doom.

Update 38: The jury verdict rolls in. And here is to me one of the biggest surprise revelations in the book, that initially only 8 of 12 of the jury "voted" Harlow guilty initally.

When I blogged about this issue back in 2009, I didn't get any impression there was a formal vote taken, just that 4 of the jurors rhetorically hemmed and hawed (and smoked) a bit before finally and formally voting guilty:
1) Amazingly, four jurors actually held out for a bit on finding Harlow guilty in the guilt phase: 
“There were four jurors who thought it could have been Joe,” Scutt said. “You had no direct evidence, no DNA linking (Cuadra) to the murder. There was so much circumstantial evidence. There were several that couldn't put the knife in his hand.”
A smoking break, of all things, quickly broke the logjam, however:
“The jurors went out for a smoke, and when they returned, one of them told us she thought about the case when she was outside for a cigarette and came to agree (Cuadra) was guilty,” Stavitzski said. “The other jurors who had doubt then came around.”
Smoking was definitely hazardous to Harlow's health in jury deliberations."
Lets enter the realm of speculation for a bit. We already have a core of 2 jurors who voted to a acquit outright and two probably leaning that way such that they abstained. Lets say a few things went differently during the trial. Let's say Joe testified and fell on his sword in accordance with Plan C (or D or whatever). Lets say Harlow's image makeover and blog misinformation campaign succeeded, and the court room was filled with "FREE HARLOW" t-shirt wearing supporters every day. Lets say those 4 Harlow-leaning jurors became 6...or 7. THEN we are looking at at least a hung jury...and possibly a not guilty verdict.

The fact that 4 jurors felt strongly enough at the outset to decline to formally VOTE guilty, despite the mountain of evidence that was presented to them, tells me the case outcome was actually a lot closer than I thought in 2009.

Update 37: Some final comments on Melnick's cross-examination. What the book tells me that I did not really know before is the occasional combativeness of Harlow on the stand with Melnick. This didn't come across to me strongly during the news accounts and court watcher reports back in 2009 (to my recollection, anyways). The only impression I remember back then was that Melnick was having a field day, ferreting out various major inconsistencies in Harlow's story, much to Harlow's embarrassment.

I wonder if that combativeness was a wise strategy? If your whole defense is based on claiming to be a defenseless bully victim, is it a good idea to respond to bullying by the prosecutor by bullying him right back?

Most interesting moment detailed in the book: Melnick bringing up the Here TV Roecker interview, and Harlow trying to explain it away by claiming Roecker taped him for the show without his knowledge (!!!). Considering that recording a phone call without permission is a crime in most states, this incident of selling an ally and supporter of his down the river astounds me today, just as much is it did in 2009.

Most interesting moment NOT detailed in the book: This exchange -
"“Mr. Cuadra, let’s cut to the chase. Are you saying that Grant Roy and Sean Lockhart have anything to do with this murder?” Melnick asked.
“No,” Cuadra responded."
Which I think shows a big difference between the book, and the blogs as they existed back in 2009. This little Q and A was a huge deal in the Kocisphere back in 2009, as there were still bright embers of hope amongst the Brent-bashers that Harlow would at some point turn to the jury, and dramatically implicate Sean and Grant in the murders. That concise word "no" dashed all those pent up hopes. The Brent-bashers silence after this point was deafening; their disappointment was palpable. It was one of those major Kocisphere moments.

The book handled this whole matter (probably correctly, IMO) with a couple of paragraphs at the start of Chapter 6 ("To be clear,..."), and never returned to it. So, what was of thermonuclear importance in 2009 did not even make the cut in 2012.

Update 36: Melnick begins cross-examining Harlow at the start of Chapter 12. This is generally remembered here to those following the trial live back then as a great slaughter (with Harlow being the slaughteree). Just go back to the thread in question here, and browse through the comments to get a picture of all this.

Melnick begins the chapter by blowing up the whole dominating Joe theory with gusto, and the book gives a few examples of taped statements of Harlow, used by Melnick, to show that Harlow wasn't just this wus being pushed around all the time by "Terror of the Tidewater" Joe.

In fact, going back to that old thread, you can find some excerpts on that point I managed to find on my own back in 2009:

"Update 6: Per Sassy's advice in the comments here, I went combing through the CCTs and BBTs, to see what clues I could find as to who dominated who in the Harlow/Joe relationship. These were the most telling items I found: 
"HARLOW CUADRA: I'll tell you what, when we're nude on that beach you can ask me whatever the hell you want. 
Here we have Harlow making a critical (ha ha, how's that for understatement!) decision in this saga, all on his own. Joe meekly aquieses, with the one-word question to Harlow: "Really?" 
And then right after that we have: 
"GRANT ROY: So y'all going to Sea World tomorrow? 
JOSEPH KEREKES: Honestly Grant, if you can't give us a positive word tonight, we're gonna head back tomorrow morning or tomorrow afternoon. 
HARLOW CUADRA: Well we'll give you 'til tomorrow." 
Now, here's the exact opposite; Joe makes a decision, and then Harlow completely overrides it. 
I think we now know who was the "controlling" partner in this relationship."
The thing is, I could have easily found more such examples combing through the BBTs back then. If you read through those transcripts in their entirety, it's very clear that Harlow is, at the very least, an equal co-partner in the relationship (indeed, an excellent argument can be made that Harlow was dominant over Joe via manipulation). In any case, as all of these statements reflecting the relationship between Harlow and Joe rolled in the Kocisphere as the case developed, Harlow never came across to us as a dominated wallflower.

And you know, the best evidence of this isn't even these various tape snippets. It's one of the prime witnesses who testified in the case: Justin Hensley.

Here's what Hensley had to say about the relationship (back in Chapter 4):
"Hensley rejects suggestions that Kerekes was dominating over Cuadra. Kerekes could be "a loud mouth," Hensley said, and Cuadra "just kind of put up with it." "I grew to be, you know, a friend of (Harlow), because he took care of me and (Cuadra and Kerekes) had their disagreements about things, but I don't think Harlow would do anything for Joe," Hensley said."
Boom. That's really game-set-match on this issue. Hensley actually LIVED with them, thus he was better positioned to judge this question than practically anyone else on this planet. He was testifying under oath on this matter, and he has absolutely NO conceivable reason to lie. So, it's easy to see how the whole dominated-Harlow theory got rejected by the jury.

Update 35: Chapter 11, Harlow on his own behalf. Before we get into Harlow's story, we need to remind ourselves of the context in which it was told.

This court room story was Harlow's third major story. The first story, if you all recall, was that the real killer stole Harlow's well-circulated escort photo off the internet, and he had nothing to do with the murder at all. This story began to fall apart when the Vegas photo of he and Brent together was discovered, an impossible coincidence that made it clear he was lying.

The second story was that he had an innocent meeting with Kocis in PA, arrived at the house, peeked in, smelled smoke, and left. This was the story famously labelled Plan B in the intercepted three-way calls. Harlow and his supporters stuck to this story until Joe's plea deal, admitting he'd been a party to murder, made Plan B completely untenable as well.

Notice that each change in story was never made voluntarily. It was always forced upon Harlow by the revelation of new facts pointing to his guilt, necessitating a new story be concocted that manages to explain away all the facts, both new and old. The jury knew of this history of tale-telling and story-shifting, as did the bloggers.

The jury and the bloggers also knew of his other attempts at deceit, such as his campaign to find fake alibi witnesses, the aforementioned three-way calls in which fake stories (which were even given "Plan" letters) were openly bandied about, and the creme-de-la-creme, happening JUST before Harlow took the stand: Joe walking into the court room saying that Harlow had asked him to lie and tell yet another story, but he decided against it at the last minute.

And right at that moment, the poor, downtrodden, frightened and innocent Harlow mask drops, and a pair of ANGRY Harlow eyes shoots bullets at Joe. Joe leaves the court, the poor, downtrodden, frightened and innocent mask goes back up, but not before at least one juror witnesses the facial transformation.

So, that's the context.

And with that in mind, here in a nutshell is Harlow's court room story:

Harlow and Joe wanted to shoot porn with Brent Corrigan, but there were complications with this lawsuit Brent was in with a company called Cobra Video. Harlow had a very low opinion of Cobra Video, saying their marketing was unbelievably poor, and "their edit work sucks."
Brent settles his lawsuit, so yay, he can shoot porn with Harlow. But Harlow and Joe decide that it would help build Harlow's audience to shoot a video with Cobra beforehand. Because as we all know, nothing helps builds an audience like working for a company with terrible marketing and sucky editing.
So, Harlow arranges an interview with the owner of Cobra Video. But he does so using a fake name. Because as we all know, the best way to boost yourself name recognition in the industry is to work under a fake name no one will recognize.
Anyways, the interview is going swimmingly until Harlow's boyfriend Joe starts pounding intensely at the front door. Now, several witnesses have testified already that Kocis NEVER answered unexpected knocks at the door. But those were just normal knocks! Obviously a menacing, rapid pounding with a heavy fist is a splendid occasion to throw caution to the wind, break tradition, and open that door. So, Kocis opens the door...
And then Joe the jealous boyfriend bursts in and cuts Kocis' throat, while Kocis quite understandably complains about the fact that his throat is being cut. Harlow, naturally, is mortified at this turn of events.

And that is pretty much Harlow's story. True, I left some details out, but like I said this is but a nutshell, and I think all the major points have been hit.

I'm not going to waste a lot of time here telling you my opinion of all this...I save it for the comments. Perhaps the occasional faint whiff of sarcasm in my retelling of the story may have given me away already.

But I will make a note of a few minor additional points about Chapter 11:

1) Harlow states that Joe controlled his finances so much that Harlow did not even own a wallet. Now, I have a question that I'm going to crowdsource out to you all: Is there a police record posted, on PC's blog perhaps, of the inventory of possessions taken off their person when Harlow and Joe were arrested? PC has a LOT of documents posted on his blogs, but I can't remember if an arrest inventory sheet is among them. And it's been so long I don't even know where to begin to look.

I'd be VERY curious to know if a wallet was found on Harlow...

2) Harlow states that Joe had a habit of bursting in jealously on his sessions with clients...similar to how he says he bursted in on Kocis. However, none of the Harlow clients called to testify (Nep, Hal(l)ford, etc..) testified to this. Why were none of the bursted-in clients called in to testify on this critical bit of alleged evidence? would think a bursted-in client would be quite irate at Norfolk Male Escorts. So much so they would leave a bad escort review. However, looking at Harlow's old reviews (yes, they still exist, Harlow and Joe are listed as "retired", LOL) there is no review in existence mentioning any such bursting in by Joe.

One would almost believe, by the complete lack of easily obtainable supporting evidence, that Harlow is making this bursting in thing up.

3) Harlow states that he sat in on three or so phone calls by Kocis, each about five minutes long. If true (and in this particular instance, I can think of no motive for Harlow to lie) this verifies my earlier theory about Harlow arriving BEFORE the Macias call, and sitting in on phone conversations between Kocis and Lee Bergeron and Macias.

IMO this is probably the most interesting thing in Chapter 11.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Victory Day 2013, Part Quatre

Update 34: And a bonus update. Having just learned of the recent difficulties PC has encountered with his publisher, I just want to state how saddened I am that it has come to pass.

It's particularly terrible, especially in light of the difficult road the and his co-author have gone through with the previous shady publisher, plus the weasels on various other websites which have stolen his images in the past without permission or even credit, to have to go through this nonsense now.

No one has worked harder on covering this case than PC, and no one deserves these sorts of headaches less. The fact that this is happening is a sad refection on the state of book publishing today.

Update 33: OK, we now arrive at the section about Joe, "the uncooperative witness".

I've already opined on this amazing incident earlier. From the perspective of those of us in the blog trenches back in 2009, following this trial live, this was a HUGE moment, quite literally the climax of the case. We'd been getting bits and hints from pro-Harlow sources for weeks about a big revelation that would knock our socks off, and set Harlow free...but it was a big secret! 'Just wait, you'll see!' they said.

Well, the big moment came, the blink of an eye, Joe decided he wasn't going to go down in history as Harlow's patsy. Game over. It was obvious Harlow was now doomed.

Everyone's minds were blown at what had just was an actual Perry Mason/Matlock/LA Law moment, an eruption of unexpected court room drama which COMPLETELY steered the case in an inevitable direction. This sort of thing happens all the time on TV law dramas, but truth be told, occurs very rarely in real life. So overcome was I, that at the time of writing about it my usual tradition of a cutesy title for a post was set aside, and all I could think of for a title was my emotion at the time.

A couple of observations: First, the book mentioned that during opening statements "D'Andrea asked jurors to play close attention to evidence they would hear that implicated others, such as Joseph Kerekes, Grant Roy and Sean Lockhart in the murder of Kocis." But as the case went forward, no evidence was put forth implicating Sean and Grant. In fact, later when Harlow took the stand, he would flatly deny Sean and Grant had anything to do with it.

Thus it appears there was a shift in strategy shortly after the trial began, probably occasioned by having gotten an "agreement" from Joe to take all the rap. The blame Sean and Grant plans mentioned in opening statements were discarded, and they put all their eggs in the blame Joe basket. Fatally, as it turned out.

Second, there was IMO a VERY important incident which occurred when Joe made his big court room announcement, which does not seem to have made the book (or did it? I can't find it...). You can read about it here, and it's this: When Joe told the world he wasn't going to commit perjury for Harlow Cuadra, one of the jurors happened to be looking right at Harlow's face. This was the facial reaction he witnessed:
"Kerekes briefly appeared during the trial under a subpoena issued by Cuadra’s lawyers. When he took the witness stand, Kerekes opted not to testify on Cuadra’s behalf. 
“Harlow gave (Kerekes) a look to kill,” Stavitzski said."
BOOM. And that's a wrap on the whole question of who was dominating who in the H-J relationship.

I mentioned earlier there was a key bit of evidence which disproves, conclusively, the notion that Harlow was this innocent Stockholm-Syndromed waif dominated into participating in a murder plot. And this is it! Here, for a split second, Harlow gets surprised...and in that split second the mask drops. Gone is the meek and mild Harlow mask. Here is the real face of Harlow, fangs bared and giving Joe a look of rage and anger that would kill.

For all those of you who still believe in Harlow's innocence, it's time to fact reality folks: Stockholm Syndrome victims have not been known to shoot their captors "a look to kill" when they don't do things as promised.

Anyways, you can certainly imagine how this keen-eyed juror observation of the momentarily unmasked Harlow influenced deliberations. It certainly influenced my opinions, when I read of it...all remaining doubts I had as to Harlow's culpability in this crime vanished. 

Update 32: Lockhart and Roy and the California tapes. Now, this observation is not about an episode in the book, but rather, about an episode not in the book. One that I was kind of hoping to see more on, but did not.

Concerning the admission of the tapes, the book notes there was a defense request that the transcript should be considered by the jury merely as a "guide" to the tapes. Olszewski declined this request. In fact, serious students of this blog may recall a specific instance, in fact, where Olszewski ruled the jury HAD to consider the transcript the authoritaive version of the tapes.

Back when the trial was ongoing, we were blessed with the presence of commenteer Quickysrt as an on-site court room observer. He shared with us a number of very interesting observations, including this amazing one here:

"This is because there is a name mentioned on the tape that the court does not want to bring into this scandal." Indeed.

Here's what I believe MIGHT going on. As you all know, Joe bragged when he was "mark@boisrus" that Harlow had a big name U.S. Senator as a client; Justin Henley testified under oath as to the same. However, the name of this purported U.S. Senator has never been revealed.

Let's assume that this Senator is real. For purposes of this discussion, lets refer to him by a fake name, so as not to cast any unjust aspersions on an actual U.S. Senator. Lets call him Sen. Finn C. Rayham.

Now, it goes without saying Finn C. Rayham doesn't want the fact he's been banging Harlow Cuadra to get out. So naturally (as we have already speculated earlier), he backs Harlow's defense to the tune of $70 grand, and no doubt keeps Joe's canteen fund well stocked as well.

Now, if the good Senator Finn C. Rayham's name is also mentioned on the BBTs, notice that EVERYONE involved in the case has a desire to see that mention suppressed. The defense for the obvious reason that they want the money to keep flowing. And the prosecution and Olszewski most certainly do not want the case to become an even bigger media circus than it already is! The situation was bad enough as is, without the major U.S. tabloids descending on Luzerne Country as well.

So, it is not far fetched to imagine that a motion was made in secret, in chambers, which Olszewski approved, suppressing that name on the BBT transcript, and also instructing the bailiff to turn the volume down to inaudible levels when that portion of the tape is played to the jury and the audience. Just EXACTLY as described by Quickysrt.

Again, this is an area I wish the book had delved into, either to confirm OR debunk it. It is certainly one of the major enduring, intriguing, and unanswered mysteries of this case, IMO.

Update 31: "Getting Macias cooperation with the investigation and for the trial of Cuadra would prove challenging..."

You know, it's funny that the prosecution had no problem summoning close friends and allies of Harlow to the stand to give incriminating evidence against him, such as Joseph Ryan, Nep, Mitch Hal(l)ford, Justin Hensley, Andrew Shunk etc etc etc, but when they tried to call Kocis long time friend and business attorney Sean E. Macias to the stand, they had to drag him kicking and screaming and dragging his fingernails to the court house.

You would think he'd be eager to help a murdered friend's family seek justice. But nooo. Makes you wonder why not, doesn't it?

Tell you what folks, let enter the realm of speculation for a moment. Lets assume that Harlow was telling an accurate version of events when he described on the BBTs how he sat listening in on phone calls in Kocis house, while Kocis, Macias, and Lee Bergeron discussed using the settlement as a tool to separate Sean and Grant, to screw them over and basically dismember LSG. In other words, that the whole settlement agreement, and indeed, the whole lawsuit itself, was an elaborate fraud.

That assumption in place, notice this puts the surviving criminal conspirators, Macias and Bergeron, in quite a pickle. If Melnick were to ask them under oath to verify Harlow's account of those pre-murder phone conversations (in order to prove Harlow was indeed in the house with Kocis, like he said on the BBTs), they'll be faced with three unpleasant alternatives: 1) admit in a court of law to conspiracy to commit fraud; 2) plead the 5th; or 3) commit perjury.

Also notice that Macias could not claim attorney-client privilege in this situation. Why, you ask? Because Harlow was in the room, listening to the calls! For ACP to attach, the communication must be confidential. And the presence of a 3rd party destroys confidentiality, and renders attempts to label the communication as ACP null and void.

As things turned out in real life, Melnick never did engage Macias in this line of questioning (perhaps by pre-arranged agreement?). But in any case, I think it's all quite clear why getting Macias' cooperation was so "challenging."

Update 30: Key pieces of evidence: "Retrieved receipts would show the couple purchased...Jet-Alert caffeine tablets..."

One theory that's always been bandied about in this case, from the day of their arrest onwards, was that Harlow and Joe were meth users. After all, such a drug habit is not unknown in the gay porn culture, and the erratic behavior associated with it would certainly go a long way towards explaining how such a hair-brained murder scheme ever got off the ground.

I think now, however, we can safely discard this theory. Had this been a drug they indulged in with any regularity, there would have been no need to purchase caffeine tablets at Wal-Mart.

On a side note, it is fascinating to me that Wal-Mart can track the sales of a particular item (such as lighter fluid) at all 5,700 of their stores on any given day.

Update 29: Chapter 10 starts off with a humdinger of a topic, Joe's plea deal.

First just a bit of background of the moment as I recall it. Up to this point, the party line of the Harlow and Joe supporters had been they were 100% innocent, and no plea deals, ever! This was oft repeated on their respective blogs as well. So, when the news of the plea deal broke, with no warning to their loyal supporters, the dismay in their camp was palpable.

The fact that the terms Joe got were so horrible only confirmed that they indeed must have been involved in the murder, and all the fanciful stories such as Harlow walking into the house, smelling smoke, and then leaving without investigating further were thus rudely cast aside.

An entire cinematic production, which portrayed Harlow as a poor innocent waif and Joe as a loving husband, went in a heartbeat from a useful propaganda tool to a huge embarrassment (indeed, it was used by Melnick to impeach Harlow, a fact that I find ticklishly amusing to this day).

And although it wasn't immediately apparent at the time (although obvious now in hindsight) this was the magic moment a new batch of stories began to be crafted, theoretical tales which put ALL the blame on Joe.

Anyways, this is the first mention in the book of any plea negotiations (which if you notice, were initiated by the prosecution), which leads us to assume that there were no plea talks at all prior to this point. In other words, up until now Harlow and Joe's blogs were a correct statement of their no-plea-deal positions at the time.

I mention this because a core belief of mine has always been that Harlow and Joe were foolish not to use whatever public defenders they happened to have on hand at the time and FROM DAY ONE begin aggressively seeking a plea deal. That was their big mistake. Harlow and Joe had only one bit of leverage in plea negotiations, and that was to spare Luzerne County the trouble and expense of a hugely expensive trial. And the longer they waited, and the more of that expense the county began to expend, the more they frittered away their one and only bargaining chip.

Had Joe waited any longer, the best deal he might have gotten would have been two ceremonial last meals instead of one.

On the other side of that spectrum, I mentioned in my blog's conclusion a similar stabbing murder in Luzerne County about that same time, where a much-less-savory defendant managed to plead quickly and early to a 20-40 year sentence. Had Harlow done the same he could have conceivably been a free man at 46, with half his life still ahead of him.

I wish the book had probed more into the question of why Harlow and Joe decided on their foolish "no plea deals, ever" policy, and who (if anyone) had an outside hand in influencing that policy. That to me is one of the big unanswered questions in this whole saga.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Victory Day 2013, Part Trois

Update 28: I know we are going slowly through Chapter 9, but it is such a gold mine of new information that practically everything in it is comment-worthy.

Take the next section on "The hunt for trace evidence". It's one of the many reasons why any serious student of this case has to buy the book. Tucked at the end is yet another fascinating "Melnick interview with AES" tidbit.

Stop and let the implications of this all wash over you. There was a garbage bag. In this garbage bag was stuffed the Kocis-blood-splattered clothes of the murderer of Bryan Kocis. We know this bag actually exists because some California hotel (this one perhaps, where I ate a BLT 4 years ago?) actually has a record of it.

Now stop and ponder the further implications of this. Who's clothes are in this bag? Could they be Joe's? Unlikely! Joe was the one who told the investigators about it! The same investigators he was trying to sell the story of him being at the Fox Ridge Inn the whole time. If the bag contained Joe's clothes splattered with Kocis' blood, Joe would have N-E-V-E-R tipped them off to it.

So, by process of elimination, whose blood-splatted clothes MUST BE in this garbage bag, currently moldering in some landfill in San Diego? Mmmm hm. Uh huh. Mmmm hm.

Update 27: The sections 'Cuadra details "the plan" for acquittal' and "Answering those nagging questions" both deal with a topic recently brought up in the comments, that being Harlow's obsession with winning the battle for public opinion.

Here we see the 'Free Harlow' t-shirts in court idea that never got off the ground, along with a wealth of other image management tips in a letter to Renee Martin. "Image matters a lot" sayeth Harlow.

Also interesting are his directives to Renee on cleaning up Joe's image, and improving his blog. Yes, commands from Harlow, micromanaging the affairs of Joe. So here we get a clear indication who really wears the pants in this relationship.

Lastly, more of Harlow's personality gets revealed in his prison blog post, a Brent-bashing tour de force where he got an opportunity to call him "pretentious", "bitchy", "bratty" and such a nonentity in the industry that Harlow had actually never heard of him until recently. All within a few short sentences! The book doesn't go into this, but I can tell you the effect his had on the blogs: Harlow's popularity soared to an all time high among BB and all the other Brent-bashers (who were more numerous back then, and vocal even beyond their numbers). They came out and cackled amongst themselves in the comment sections for days in the aftermath of this. It seems to me, this was a calculated ploy by Harlow to curry their favor.

So, why did Harlow think that "image mattered" and was critical to "the plan" for acquittal? I can think of three possible reasons:

1) He may have thought a widespread belief in his innocence in the blogs and in the media would trickle down to the jury pool in northeastern Pennsylvania (this one is, admittedly, far fetched in reality...but who knows what Harlow was thinking?);

2) He may have also needed a good public image for legal defense fundraising purposes (this one is more realistic...these donors are people who would be reading the relevant blogs); and/or

3) He may have been (wishfully) thinking ahead to his life after acquittal. He didn't want just a jury to think that he was innocent, he wanted the world to think he was innocent. In other words, he did not want to become the OJ Simpson of gay porn.

So, it could have been one, some or all of these reasons. I'm guessing probably a bit of all.

Update 26: The three-way calls. Two suspects in custody, recorded talking to themselves coordinating the fake alibis they intend to use. You know, if this were the only evidence offered to a jury, this ALONE would be enough, most likely, to get a conviction.

One other thing I'd point out is, since the nature of the relationship between Harlow and Joe has become such a hot topic in the comments as of late, these three-way calls are a marvelous sources for getting at the truth of that relationship.

The book only gives a few snippets of their interaction.; I've read more detailed accounts in the past, and I can tell you this much: Harlow and Joe bickered during those three way calls on occasion. And here's the thing: Whenever Joe snapped at Harlow, Harlow DID NOT HESITATE to snap right back.

The part quoted in the book, where Harlow is saying "I know, I know, I know...I,I,I know, I know Joe", if you read that part it's full context, Harlow is basically telling Joe to kindly STFU.

Which of course is not the kind of thing you'd expect a dominated wallflower to be saying.

Update 25: After detailing Harlow's failed alibi attempts, PC systematically eviscerates Joe's alibi (of sorts) that he was at the Fox Ridge Inn the whole time. There is simply no doubt Joe was at the murder scene with Harlow (Joe's constant denials, to this day, notwithstanding).

Then we get to Joe's prison buddies. After re-reading this section, I've come to a BIG conclusion: I've decided that the Riggs account is actually the true and accurate account of exactly what happened, of who was where and of who did what on the day of the murder.

Here's the Riggs account of what Joe told him. Pay close attention class, because THIS is undoubtedly how it all really happened:

1) Harlow went into Kocis' home for the appointment, alone
2) Joe waited in the car in the driveway
3) Harlow killed Kocis, alone
4) Harlow came out and got Joe
5) Together they moved Kocis' body to the couch, ransacked the house, and set it on fire. Then fled.

As the book notes, Riggs had only a paltry 7 months left on a sentence for a minor parole violation, so, he had little incentive to elaborately make all this stuff up. In addition, everything he says is in 100% accord with the evidence as we know it...everything fits to a tee. And third, he knew details even the police hadn't found out yet.

And as for Joe, everything he's saying to Riggs is prejudicial to himself, including the admission, that Joe has always DESPERATELY and falsely denied to this day, that he was at the murder scene. So, there is no motive for Joe to by lying to Riggs about this.

This is it folks. Final version, end of story, mystery solved, case closed.

Update 24: Harlow's hunt for an alibi section brings up the mysterious Mitch Hal(l)ford. Re-reading all this brings up two questions in my mind:

1) How many l's are really in his name? The book has it down with one l, but then there's counter-indications such as this. It's been spelled both ways in the Kocisphere in the past, IIRC.

2) Does anyone else find it odd...nay, unbelievable...that a person would be approached to give a fake alibi for someone, thus almost certainly indicating that that someone is as guilty as sin...and then turn around and give that person $70,000 to defend themselves in court? In other words, to donate that much money to a legal defense fund, shouldn't you actually believe that someone to be innocent?

I find it very hard to believe anyone could think someone is innocent after being asked to lie to the police about an alibi for them, and I also find it hard to believe someone would spend $70,000 on someone they had CLEAR SIGNS was indeed guilty.

Update 23: Now we move on to Chapter 9. This is the first of the trial (and pre-trial) parts of the book, which actually takes up about 40% of it.

First up the lawyer roulette section. The moral of the story here is, if you're going to commit a crime in a small rural county, where every lawyer has been in every other lawyer's law firm and/or worked for the same client at one time or the other, make SURE you commit the crime by yourself, with no co-conspirator. Otherwise you're looking for trouble!

The Fannick controversy is covered here in detail, in which it was claimed attorney Demetrius Fannick met with Joe eight times in prison and except for talking about fees, never once discussed the case with him. You can view my dramatic recreation of those conversations here.

And the book has an interesting new revelation about the incident, duly footnoted as "Kerekes interview with AES, 7-2-09":

"Kerekes would later contradict himself again, admitting in a state prison interview that he lied in court, and that his discussions with Fannick went far beyond the fee structure."

In other words, Joe is now admitting to committing an act of perjury. I guess we know now why Fannick did not testify under oath on the matter (as if we didn't know already). It also brings up an interesting contemporary issue: If Joe committed perjury, and we assume he did so at Fannick's behest, well, let's just say this is something the Luzerne County DA and/or state bar of Pennsylvania may now wish to take an interest in.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Victory Day 2013, Part Deux

Update 22: Finishing up Chapter 8, what sticks in my mind most, thanks to recent commentary here, is the info on what exactly got impounded due to RICO.

In "Paying for a defense" we have Harlow on his blog opining that "The dollar amount to defend a capital case is over $250,000 combined" which I take to mean $125,000 for each Harlow and Joe. Which sounds about right, and I'm sure Harlow was well and truly informed by his legal team at the time as to that estimate.

Fred Kerekes, OTOH, puts the figure he needed to raise at "$150,000 for my son and Harlow (Cuadra)." So, we can put the total somewhere in that $150,000 to $250,000 range and be on pretty safe ground here.

So, in an alternate universe where RICO didn't exist, would H&J's legal funding problems been equally nonexistent? Turns out not quite.

As we know, VA didn't even bother with the house, it was so underwater it might as well have been nicknamed Jacques Cousteau. The cars they seized initially but ended up "sent back to the lenders" because they too had no equity. That leaves a bunch of personal belongings of undetermined value (computers, video cameras, a stereo, an iPod, some jewelry, a Louis Vuitton back, racing tire rims and and accessories) and $26,585.25 in cash.

I don't know what all the RICOed  personal stuff was worth (based on this blog's namesake event, the auction of the infamous Chinchilla coat, I'd have to imagine it would not have been a very significant amount ... lets say, $5000 or so?) which leaves the only real RICO loss being that wad of cash, $26,585.25. In other words, barely 10% to 15% of what they needed for a paid defense.

In this alternate universe, Barry Taylor would have been in position and first in line to suck up this $32,000 or so. There are indications in the book he was owed quite a lot of money at the time of the arrest, so much of it would not have gone to any future capital defense by him, but rather, to pay off the billable hours already racked up.

(By the way, in a slightly earlier section "Trashing the evidence" can you guess who's one of the biggest whiners about the RICO seizures? Yep, Barry Taylor)

Bottom line, it can't be said RICO was this vast conspiracy to deny H&J they money to mount a paid defense. Because, even without RICO, they would not have had the cash to mount a paid defense. Not even close.

Update 21: The rest of Chapter 8, about the period they were "on the run" sure brought back memories.

Let me tell you what was going on in the Kocisphere back then. Back then, as you know, I was practically the lone voice in the wilderness pointing out the Harlow and Joe MUST have been involved in committing the murder. Practically everyone else wanted to point the finger and speculate at Sean and Grant, and didn't want to listen to logic that pointed in a different direction.

Also keep in mind, neither the SWAT raid nor the fact that Harlow and Joe had gone into hiding was public knowledge at this point. No news stories reported the SWAT raid right after it happened, so, no one knew that the police had basically eliminated Sean and Grant as suspects and were now focusing like a laser beam on Harlow and Joe. Which was great for all the Brent-did-it conspiracists.

At some point, I think, Sean got tired of all the excess suspicion on him. Police had kept he and Grant informed to some degree about the course of the investigation, so, he KNEW they were in reality they were cowering and hiding somewhere, after the SWAT raid.

So, Sean goes to his journalist friend Jody Wheeler and does an "interview" that was really not supposed to be one. It's a little fuzzy on whether what he told Wheeler was supposed to be off the record or not, but IMO the most likely scenario was that Sean wanted to leak truthful information to the Kocisphere about the VERY REAL investigation of Harlow and Joe, and this was the way he went about it.

The article "Two Pair" by Wheeler came out, and naturally it blew up the Kocisphere. Especially with it's quote of Sean saying that Harlow and Joe were currently "on the run."

And it was at this point that Joe began posting on the Kocisphere, under his "Mark" persona, in order to counter the TRUTH that they were indeed "on the run."

In particular:

"sanfransam said... anyone else see harlow @ the gay awards?
i did :)
He looked cute, and did not look like he was too worried about anything. Harlow did have on a sweet pair of nike dunks with his suit. maybe the sneakers where in case he had to make a run for it?
February 25, 8:37 AM
---Anonymous said... Hi this is Mark again from here just confirming I sent a studly entorage to san fran (Harlow and Calvin) for gayvn just to mingle and to set alarms silent. Harlow isnt on the run and actually has been filming in va beach for my new update to boybatter today with he and mason. :-)Trent & Harlow have been escorting here ever since that night in question and before.Im sorry I cant respond to any questions regarding investigations, my long time litigation lawyer says NObut thanks for your warm welcome to this blog..that was suprising as I DO realize porn & escorting are two very different worlds.Mark
February 25, 2007 9:00 AM"
And that folks, is ALL IT TOOK. INSTANTLY, this Harlow-was-at-the-GAYVNs story was adopted by the majority of folks in the Kocisphere AS THE GOSPEL TRUTH. That's all it took! A fake "sanfransam" Yahoo email account, and a statement by "Mark."

And STILL TODAY, there was that idiot who posted a comment on the Sword a few months back about how Harlow was at the GAYVNs after the murder! That shows how amazingly effective those two posts above were. My brain still explodes thinking about this today! It's incredible how gullible people can be when they want to be!

And what happened to Sean at this point, you may wonder? Sean, who took a risk and provided the Kocishere with the first REAL information about the course of the murder investigation?

Oh. My. God. He was CRUCIFIED. "That lying TOXIC TWINK, Harlow and Joe are NOT on the run, LOL! They were at the GAYVNs, see? Someone even noticed his nice shoes! OBVIOUSLY, this LIE proves BRENT is a MURDERER!" Etc etc etc.

Oh, you should have seen the comments. Sean was literally crucified. And for what? Giving us all what we so desperately craved: real and truthful information about what was going on in the murder investigation.

To this day, I'm still in amazement about how when the Kocisphere was presented with both the truth and a lie, the degree to which the lie was eagerly cherished and adopted, and the truth was villified and denigrated...I am just astounded. To this day!

This is stuff I kinda wish was in the book. There are life lessons here, about the capacity of people to be completely blind to the nature of truth and lies in order comport them to one's own preconceived world views, that are IMO of immense value and should be put on record here.

Update 20: "[Harlow and Joe, while they were hiding out in Miami after the SWAT raid but before the arrest] also conducted an on-camera interview with TV producers from MTV's Real Life program to tell their side of the story, but the segment never aired."

Will it ever air? Has anyone outside MTV actually seen this? Was it involved in the trial in any way?

Were both of them interviewed, together?

Seems to me some valuable insight into the power dynamic between the two would be revealed in this video, and how they responded to the interviewer.

Any chance it will ever been seen by the public? It keeps coming up from time to time (I think Joe mentioned it in one of his letters) and it's like this mysterious thing that gets mentioned but no one has ever really seen or heard it.

Update 19: On to Chapter 8. "In the short time they did spend together, Higgins came away unimpressed with Cuadra. "He is a male prostitute, and he comes across as soft, by the way he speaks and his mannerisms, but I can see right through that," Higgins said. ... "He acts like that to get people to do what he wants, to manipulate people."

The footnote indicates the source of this observation is "Higgins interview with AES" making this a new fact revealed in the book, and a quite interesting one coming from someone who's entire professional career is based on making these sorts of profiling character observations.

Update 18: Chapter 7: "...Kocis approached his friend Samuel Hall, a Milwalkee-based entertainment lawyer who had befriended Kocis earlier in 2005."

What's interesting to me about this is that this I think the first time I've heard of this guy (or maybe I did, but can't remember?).

In any case, what we get in this section is some very interesting details from Mr. Hall about the Cobra settlement. And not just the terms of the settlement, but the state of mind of the parties before, during and right after the settlement talks in Vegas.

I notice the source for all this is the Cuadra Trial Transcript, so, I gather Hall was called as a witness, and was asked about all this by either the prosecution or the defense.

The Le Cirque dinner is covered at the end of the chapter as well. The only detail I think should have been included was the phone conversation between Joe and Grant, after Vegas but before the murder, with Joe once again nagging to begin filming, and Grant telling them they still weren't ready yet due to the recently signed settlement.

I'm trying to remember the exact details of this call, and what date it took place (it's probably written on my blog here, but it'll take a while to dig up), but as I recall it was triggered in part due to the premature announcement on Boybatter of a new partnership with Brent Corrigan , etc etc etc. which Grant was not pleased with.

It is my belief that it was this phone call that was the final trigger in the decision by Harlow and Joe to murder Bryan Kocis.

[Edit: I found it!
"On the morning of Tuesday, January 16, Joe and Harlow called Sean, angry that Sean had not posted an announcement of their plans on his blog. Grant was furious at their impatience. “I’m in the middle of the settlement, and I had gone to great lengths to explain our situation, and they’re all pissed off because we don’t have a blog post on? Who the fuck do they think they are? I called them and said, ‘We’ve got a lot to do. You’re calling Sean and harassing him.’ Joe starts getting angry with me, saying wild things, threatening me that if we don’t ‘put up a post,’ the deal is off. I said, ‘If you don’t understand us, leave us the fuck alone.’ And I told Sean, ‘Screw those guys. Don’t talk to them anymore.’ That was it.”"] 

Update 17: I just finished up Chapter 6, which is an *excellent* synopsis of what went down at the Crab Catcher and on Black's Beach. A really fine job in describing how Harlow and Joe for all intents and purposes confessed to murder on tape, the audience at this point now knows the police investigation has run it's course, and it's only a matter of time before the jaws of the trap snap shut...and they swoop in for the arrest! The anticipation is palpable, how will it go down? This missed them once during the SWAT raid, will Harlow and Joe manage to wriggle away again? Will there be violence or bloodshed? The reader eagerly turns the page to Chapter 7...

...And begins to read more of the past history of Sean Lockhart.

This is, I think, the biggest problem with the book, one that Will has remarked on already, and many book reviewers have noted as well, and that is the unfortunate over-tendency to of the book to tell the story in a non-chronological fashion. With this transition from Chapter 6 to 7 being the most jarring example of this. In fact, 7 goes on to simply repeat much of what's already been covered in Chapter 3 (although in greater detail).

Now, I don't know if any plans are in the works for a 2nd edition, but if there are, I think an untangling of the various sections and chapters would be a worthwhile endeavor. I have had some months to ponder this problem, and for it's worth, I throw my ideas out for fixing here. They are suggestions, obviously, so take from them what you will (if anything):

Chapter 1: The murder scene, unchanged from the book.

Chapter 2: Life of Kocis, which would be the current Chapter 2, plus much of current Chapter 3 dealing with the history of Cobra Video all the way until Bryan sees Sean on webcam for the very first time, then STOP.

Chapter 3: Life of Sean, childhood through meeting Kocis (where Ch 2 stopped), then continuing on with much of what's in Chapters 3 and 7 (the Cobra Wars), all the way to the climactic settlement signing in Vegas, then STOP. "But there was another fateful meeting Sean and Grant had scheduled during that weekend in Las Vegas, at the world famous Le Cirque in the Bellagio Hotel..."

Chapter 4: Life of Harlow and Joe, the rise and fall of their empire, all the way to the Le Cirque dinner, then STOP. We are now caught up to where we left off in 3, AND we have now introduced all the main characters, so, no more backtracking! It's all forward narrative from this chapter and onwards!

Chapter 5: Harlow and Joe do the murder (ie, current Chapter 5).

Chapter 6: Shock and Awe in San Diego (current Chapter 6) etc etc etc, except now we can dispense entirely with the current Chapter 7 (which was merged into 3 and 4). So, the current Chapter 8 becomes 7, and so on and so forth!

So, FWIW, that's my fix suggestion. We only time-shift 3 times (in the first three chapters), and that out of necessity when each new major character groups are introduced. From Chapter 4 and onwards we are full speed ahead.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Victory Day 2013

Update 16: On to Chapter 6! The first paragraph reads as follows:

"To be clear, suspicion about who killed Bryan Kocis did not immediately settle on Harlow Cuadra and Joseph Kerekes. Speculation online and among porn insiders almost immediately centered instead on Sean Lockhart and Grant Roy because of their well-known and public feud with Kocis."

FWIW, this paragraph is accurate. However, the main point about it I want to make is this: To the best of my recollection (and please I correct me if I'm wrong), this paragraph is the exhaustive entirety of everything the book has to say about the vast network of blogs, bloggers, commenteers and lurkers which we know of today as the "Kocisphere."

At no point does the book even vaguely allude to the Kocisphere, except this one vaguely alluding paragraph.


Update 15: And here's the "revelation" absolutely no one is surprised to see, once it became known Joe was being interviewed for this book: " kill Bryan Kocis, a task we had prepared two weeks to perform since the idea's inception between Sean Lockhart and Harlow at that business meal at Le Cirque in Vegas at the Bellagio." Then etc etc etc for two more paragraphs after that.

So, who here is shocked at this attempt by imprisoned-for-life Joe to finger Sean (and at a later quote in the book, Grant) as full-fledged co-conspirators in the murder plot? Who of us here NEVER saw this comin'?

Update 14: As 'Joe and Harlow go to Pennsylvania': "...At 6:35 P.M., another call from the pre-paid Verizon wireless cell phone is recorded making it's last phone call, this one bouncing off a cell tower on County Club Road in Dallas, Pennsylvania--just 500 yards and within view of Kocis' home. Cuadra was apparently near Kocis' home but was too early for his appointment."

I've said this before on this blog, but I think it bears repeating: I believe Harlow entered the house right after this 6:35pm phone call (which was probably Harlow telling Kocis he was early and standing at the door). In other words, not after the last call by Macias at 7:50pm, as is commonly believed.

Reason being is what Harlow said on the BBTs. He clearly related to Sean and Grant a phone call he overheard between Kocis and Lee Bergeron (frustratingly obfuscated in this book as "business partner"). Those calls from Lee, as you can see, came in right on schedule at 7:23 and 7:34pm.

There was no way on earth Harlow could have known about those calls UNLESS he was sitting right there listening to Kocis talk on his end. At the time the BBT sting was underway, the Kocis phone call info was NOT yet public info, in news accounts or on blogs.

And not only did he know of the calls, he clearly knew the gist of what was being said. Harlow mentioned on the BBTs Kocis setting up Brent in his own apartment, as part of the new business relationship. Brent exclaimed that this was indeed discussed. Harlow replied with words to the effect: See I told you so, how else would I know that.

Now, I know what some of you are going to say now, that Macias testified that Bryan told him minutes after 7:50pm that he had to end the call as "Danny" aka Harlow was at the door.

My explanation for this seeming discrepancy is a simple one: Harlow had been in Bryan's house, patiently (or impatiently) waiting since about 6:36pm. Kocis had been harried by business call almost that entire time, which we can clearly see thanks to the timeline in this section. When Macias made that last call at 7:50pm, Bryan probably decided enough was enough. He was going to refuse to talk any more to his attorney (or anyone else), and as a polite way of immediately terminating the conversation, made up a little white lie of having to get up and get the door (which is more mannerly than saying "the twink sitting next to me right now is more important than talking to you, so, hang up and go away.").

So, it was a polite little fib from Kocis to Macias, quite understandable under the circumstances. And as you can see, it reconciles with what Harlow said on the BBTs; as Harlow himself said, there is no other way he could have known about that phone call unless he was sitting there as it happened.

I think this whole point is interesting, because if I'm right (and I don't how I couldn't be) then Harlow was with Bryan alone for up to an hour and twenty minutes before he killed him, and not the mere ten or so minutes as has been commonly thought. Was it the constant phone calls that kept Harlow from killing Bryan for so long? Seems likely, you don't want to kill someone on the phone, as that would likely give it away ("talk talk talk talk talk ARRRGHaaack...").

Or possibly, was Harlow also trying to build his courage up during this time period?

On the BBTs, Harlow's account of that last conversation between Bryan Kocis and Lee Bergeron, just before Bryan was murdered, was that they were using the settlement to screw Sean and Grant over (the so-called "back door deal"), and that disparaging things were said about Sean in that conversation. The point Harlow was trying to make being, that Bryan was a bad man, and therefore, Sean and Grant should stop feeling bad about what had been done.

And one get's the impression, by implication, that that overheard phone conversation Between Lee and Bryan most likely also played a role in fortifying Harlow's resolve as well.

Update 13: On to Chapter 5...

"Despite acknowledging the need for a substantial daily and weekly income just to keep their heads above water, Kerekes insists ..."We needed no ... help whatsoever" to meet their financial obligations."


What... the... ?????

OK, some background here. In the very early days of the Kocisphere, before Harlow and Joe were even arrested, and even for a while afterwards, the main argument for their innocence was that they were stinking rich. They lived in a mansion! They drove a fleet of super expensive cars! They wore Rolexes and chinchilla fur coats! They traveled the world! Etc. They were the Warren Buffet and and Bill Gates of the homo hooker world. And THEREFORE, had NO MOTIVE to commit such a crime. They MUST have been framed! This was cited as innumerable times as settled fact on Elm blog and elsewhere (Elm actually titled a blog post 'Who Framed Harlow and Joe?' or words to that effect), despite the only source for these claims of affluence being Harlow and Joe themselves.

And indeed, they did have a big house, cars, etc. that everyone could see...but were they telling the whole story? Nearly everyone in the Kocisphere back then accepted in blind faith that they were.

Then came the bombshell: PC published their credit reports on his blog.

O.M.G. WHAT a game changer. Turns out all that wealth was borrowed on credit cards, the house double-mortgaged upside-down to the hilt. A hypothetical homeless person with nothing but a ball of lint in his pocket had a higher net worth than Harlow and Joe, since a ball of lint has a value of $0 and Harlow and Joe were clearly in negative numbers.

At that point, FINALLY, public opinion began to shift. Especially when you looked at the reports closely; you could actually see the missed payments getting worse and worse, throughout the period when they were desperately negotiating with Brent and Grant, and combined with rejected requests for credit extensions, all the way up to the day of the murder. It was utterly damning.

The die hard Harlowites were, quite naturally, furious at PC. One of the Harlow relatives (his sister, IIRC?) threatened PC with a lawsuit over the publishing of the credit report.

Elm and others, initially shocked themselves, went into damage control mode. The new party line was "Oh they had some debts (who doesn't) but they were manageable! You, see, because they had lots of income coming in!"

To this I would reply using math. At one point I figured out what they would need to make minimum monthly payments on their debts, divided it by Harlow's hourly rate, and calculated the number of hours Harlow would have to spend per month with his legs in the air. I can't recall the exact figure, but I believe it did not give him enough time to get eight hours sleep at night.

But Elm and others were impervious to math. They went on with the "they were too rich to have a motive" theory until the very end, totally dismissing that pesky little problem with creditors that were about to repossess everything they owned and loved. Elm and I literally went back and forth over this, in numerous and lengthy blog posts, for YEARS.

So, fast forward to today. Joe is in prison for life. He has nothing to lose by finally telling the truth now, the same truth he told Grant on the Blacks Beach tapes: that they were in financial desperation during this period.

So, Stoner I guess writes Joe a letter (because according to the footnote on this para it comes from a "Kerekes letter to AES") and I suppose he quite naturally asks "so Joe, why'd you do it?" and Joe replies as above, that "financial obligations" had nothing to do with it.


Holy crap, they have NOT given up on this now pointless point. You have GOT to be f'ing kidding me. I am frankly astounded. They are STILL refusing to admit finances were the motive.

Why? Why keep this lie going? I completely do not understand this. At this point I have to wonder whether Elm and Joe got together recently, and decided Joe should tell Stoner this...simply to piss me off. They knew I would read this when the book came out...and blow my stack. Yes, I realize this is a far-fetched theory, but I can currently come up with no other explanation!

And it worked too. I almost threw my book out the window (which would have been a big problem because it's a Kindle edition).

Sigh. Well, OK then Joe, if not for money problems, why DID you commit the murder?

And Joe says: "We simply saw something we we took it."

Wow. I mean, wow. So, that's the motive, according to Joe, huh? That you and Harlow did it because you both are psychopaths.

Um, yeah. BIG improvement over having a financial motive Joe! Yeah that really makes you guys look good! Thanks for sharing.


Now you all see why I said earlier that interviewing Joe for this book was a fools errand. While I appreciate the efforts of Stoner and PC in reaching out to Joe, I have to say nothing he says now in this book, or later, can really be taken seriously, for anything. And this whole paragraph is a prime example of exactly why.

Update 12: "Eliminating competitors was also nothing new for Cuadra and Kerekes..."

I am so glad this prior throat slitting incident got covered in detail in this book. Kudos to PC and Stoner for tracking down investigator Childress and getting the 411 on this, as best we can know it.

I think one of the problems the people who thought Harlow was innocent had, back in the early days of the Kocisphere, was a sense that Harlow and Joe were not predisposed to commit such a violent crime as the Kocis murder. Brent and Grant had the very public and very ugly online fight, which made a crime of passion on their part relatively believable, but Harlow and Joe? What a cute couple! And look at that Harlow, he's sooooo adorable! Wouldn't hurt a fly!

Well, later information begins to trickle out, and we find out about bullet holes in the walls, Joe's other violent acts...and then Jon Ross.

Now, we don't know for sure who slit Ross' throat, but I think we can all make a pretty good assumption here and narrow it down to one of two people. Think about this: Ross is standing in the way of a business opportunity for Harlow and Joe. Harlow and Joe resort to violence to remove the obstacle, and cut his throat. Harlow and Joe not only get what they want, but manage to get away scot free.

Harlow and Joe learn what they believe is a lesson from this: Sometimes you can get what you want in life by a well planned throat-cutting act of violence.

This prior life lesson will be VERY much on their minds years later, when they face a similar business obstacle.

Update 11: LOL: "Joe had Harlow's last name tattooed on his buttock."

(A new innovation, I shall post Updates to the top from here on out)

Happy Victory Day 2013! Yes, it's that time of the year again, the anniversary of the guilty verdict against Harlow Cuadra. A day when hard-working prosecutors and twelve ordinary citizens of Pennsylvania brought about a victory of truth over misinformation.

And a day set aside not only for celebration and/or reflection, but also as a reunion; a day for all us keyboard warriors here at SOTC, be they bloggers, commenteers or even just lurkers, to pop back for a bit and say "hi!". And to reflect back on those heady days when we followed a mystery, and then an arrest, and then a legal case, with no small amount of passion and intensity.

And it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out what this year's "main topic" will be about (in fact, the only topic). PC's book, Cobra Killer: Gay Porn Murder and the Manhunt to Bring the Killers to Justice by Andrew E. Stoner and Peter A. Conway, is finally out! In fact, it's been out for quite a while now. So, this reunion will basically be an open thread on the book.

And I think how I'm going to do this is...I am going to read the book.

Or to be more specific, re-read it. Naturally, I devoured this eagerly awaited tome the instant I was able to, and as you might imagine, I had reactions to it. Reactions at various points in it like "huh, VERY interesting" or "hmmm..." or "this wasn't covered?" or "LOL!" Things like that.

And the thing is, it's been months since I've had these various first impressions, and in the course of time, those impressions have not surprisingly become jumbled and hazy. So, what I shall do is begin re-reading the book, from Page One. Then I shall live blog my second impressions, as I have them, here as updates to this post. Then comments and discussion can flow from those updates as they occur. I am very keen to know other's opinions on these matters (especially PC's, if he would care to make them!).

I expect this will take a while. So, this reunion post will stay active for a while (a month or so, maybe?).

So, welcome back all! And feel free to start commenting, on any book-related subject you like. Let Victory Day (or Month, or Months) begin!

Update: You know, a fun fact I just remembered...this is actually not the first time I've live blogged something. As some of you may recall, I live-blogged this event. If this new one is even half as successful and entertaining as that one was, I think we'll all have reason to be quite satisfied!

Update 2: Might as well lead off with this one. Chapter 1: "He [Kocis] thought he was nearing the end of a protracted and bitter fight that had brought him scorn and to the brink of arrest on federal child endangerment laws."

As many of you may recall, this is in the very beginning of the book, and was part of the "free sample" we all got to read before the book came out. And it raised eyebrows at the time because of the "brink of arrest" bit. No one had ever suggested before that Kocis was on the "brink of arrest" over the BC underage scandal.

The reason this was so eyebrow raising was because this whole subject was the subject of a great debate back in the day, versus the "underage denial" theorists. Without getting into excessive detail (I don't want to recount here the whole history of the underage denialist movement), but suffice to say they believed, for a variety of reasons, that Brent was really 18, and not 17 (and hence not underage) when he shot his first videos for Cobra. (Yes,looking back in hindsight it is amazing people actually thought this...but for those of you weren't there, trust me! This was a huge debate, and what the denialists lacked in numbers they made up for in persistance).

A highly debated point in this clash of world views was the claim by Brent and Grant that they went to the FBI about the underage work, and reported it...and that the FBI declined to pursue the matter. The underage denialists vigorously disputed this story. They claimed BC and GR were lying about this, and that they never would have gone to the FBI, because then Brent's age fraud (ie, really being a year older) would have been exposed. The denialists repeated over and over and over the claim that the FBI would have never let a 2257 violation go unprosecuted...therefore, BC and GR were lying. Therefore, Brent was of age the whole time. Therefore, it was OK for them to finally retrieve their copies of Every Poolboy's Dream from their secret hiding places behind the refrigerator, and put it back conveniently on the shelf next the TV.

Hmm. It does appear I promised waaaay above not to get into an extended dissertation on the underage denailist controversy. And look what I just did. Crap.

OK, to wind this up ... you can see how the revelation Kocis was on the "brink of arrest" raised eyebrows. It implies that the FBI DID take a real interest in this...and that we never know about it before. Which is interesting.

Unfortunately, as I read into the book I could find nothing to back this up (unless I missed it?). And that's the point it's taken me 5 paragraphs to get to. Was Kocis really on the brink of arrest?

In the final analysis, however, I have to say it really doesn't matter all that much. The underage denialists are actually no more. Their spiritual leader, the blogger Julian, himself admitted Brent was indeed 17 at the time after all (after contacting the San Diego Police Department directly, and got confirmation that Brent was arrested for underage drinking at his 18th birthday party). Which was, BTW, a RARE example of someone in the Kocisphere actually admitting a online view he once held was actually now contrary to the evidence and hence wrong, for which he deserves an infinite amount of commendation, IMO.

So, forget I even mentioned this! Reading on...

Update 3: I just finished Chapter One. A solid chapter overall; in particular, the lurid details of what the detectives saw when they entered the house very well written, IMO.

One oddity though:
"Detective Higgins confirmed through Bryan Kocis' father that he was involved in a tumultuous lawsuit with Sean Lockhart, Grant Roy, and their business partner in California but Kocis kin never implicated any of the men as possible suspects"
Who is this unnamed "business partner"? Police are looking at this guy early on as a possible suspect due to his lawsuit involvement, right? And this is a true crime book, would think you would mention this guy's name in the book at this point, right?

Oh well, maybe I'm overreacting. Maybe this "business partner" will show up later in the book in some other context (or contexts). And then surely we will find out what his name is! After all, it would be EXTREMELY unusual if this guy kept popping up in this book, over and over again, and was only described throughout as the "business partner"...

Update 4: One last note on Chapter One:
"After meeting with [Grant Roy] Higgins eliminated Roy and Lockhart as potential suspects."
It's interesting that police made this determination so early, at Roy's first meeting with the police. My assumption, and that of many others, has always been that it was the Black's Beach escapade is what finally "cleared" them in the eyes of the police. So, good to know.

On to Chapter 2...

Update 5: Chapter 1 set up the crime scene. Chapters 2 and 3 take the next logical step in a crime drama book, and describe the victim.

Chapter 2 is all about Kocis' early life, much much attention being focused on the 2001 arrest due to his involvement with the 15 year old. Stoner even interviewed the detective on this old case, which is a lot of effort to get details about an episode that, IMO, does not really have that much to do with the murder drama per se. I suppose it was determined to portray the victim accurately here, warts and all, and this was something couldn't be just glossed over.

And there are a lot of warts. Besides the 15 year old, there are character references, including an extensive quote from Kevin Clarke (jeez Kevin, don't hold back, tell us how you really feel!). On the positive side are testimonials by his family. You can see the problem here. If Cobra wasn't founded and named until 2002, what was this ongoing porn operation of his in 2001? Some sort of proto-Cobra? Or did he just not bother to register the name until 2002?

If it's the latter explanation, then that's somewhat interesting. The same sort of lack of attention to legal and administrative details is exactly what would get him into trouble in 2004...

Update 6: Chapter 3 gets into the history of Bryan and Cobra Video. Some of the examples given are excellent in depicting just how creepy this all was, ie, a film description by Kocis: "I had to get three forms of ID on little Jonathan as this nineteen-year-old guy looks much younger than his years." Oh, if only that'd really been his standard practice ...

Then we get to one of the most important parts of the book...if not THE most important part. The section "Enter Sean Lockhart as "Brent Corrigan."" Now, here's the part where Bryan sees Brent on webcam for the very first time, and afterwards, Brent is convinced to do underage porn. This is where it all began.

So, it's important IMO to get this exactly right. And the book here...CAME SO CLOSE...but not quite. It fell short, I would say, by one sentence.

The book covers all the salient details, namely: 1) "Lockhart attributes pressure from both his boyfriend and Kocis for deciding to go ahead with the deception." and 2) "Believing a lie about his actual age was "no big deal" and that "nobody would get in trouble and that it was common that boys worked underage in the industry," (Number 2 could have been a bit better written, however: "His boyfriend convinced him that believing a lie ... etc." would have been much better. Make it clear to the audience where the blame for this misperception lies).

But the big thing that is missing here, is any sort of explanation of WHY the boyfriend acted as he did. Siren's Tale and Brent's interview with Jason Sechrest covered Christian Henriquez' (the boyfriend in question) motive very clearly: He was previously rejected as a Cobra model (didn't have the looks), but found a way to weasel back in by offering himself and Brent as a package deal. And so, he convinced Brent to lie about his age, and convinced him it was "no big deal."

The boyfriend's motive here for instigating this deception is very important, IMO. Without it, an uninitiated reader is tempted to be overly skeptical of Brent's account. "Why would this boyfriend do this? What's in it for him?" I can imagine the uninitiated reader thinking.

Now, as you all know, I healthy respect for skepticism. But skepticism needs to be well founded and well informed. And by not mentioning WHY the boyfriend did what he did in this case, conditions exist for an unwarranted level of skepticism to breed here.

And this is a pet peeve of mine, I will admit. To this day I still see comments about Brent, to the effect that he "knowingly lied about his age", without mentioning the two highly important details 1) he was coerced into it by his boyfriend at the time and 2) his boyfriend deceived him as to what the consequences would be. Those additional details need to enter the conversation.

So ONE MORE SENTENCE as to Henriquez' motive for doing what he did would have been invaluable here. One more crucial sentence wouldn't have made the book too long, and would have greatly aided clarity and comprehension of this critical moment.

And for extra credit "style" points, one more sentence could have gone in, to the effect that the boyfriend did get into his Cobra porn, for one scene...and then was immediately discarded by Kocis as if he were a used diaper. Not that this was crucial event in the whole saga, but it is an amusing detail which would have given the reader a mild chuckle at this point.

Update 7: The rest of Chapter 3 is generally outstanding, and I'm very glad the book opted to cover it in detail. I've always said you can't really fully understand the murder, unless you know the drama that preceded it, and the state of mind that existed both in the participants and in the public at large.

Some final random thoughts on Chapter 3:

1) "Signs of strain surface". This is a critical section which seems to have a large gap in it, namely how the final working relationship between Brent and Bryan went south so fast. Which BTW is not the authors' fault; the only available source for this period, Brent's Siren's Tale, tantalizingly cuts off at this point. All we can do is speculate, while the authors, who don't really have that luxury, did the best they could with what they had to work with.

I do wish, however, that the "I am the BOSS" email excerpt had been quoted in the book, verbatim. It's provenance is unquestioned (BB made an extensive effort to explain it away at one point, arguing that it had to be understood that Kocis was "angry" when he wrote it, etc...) and nothing does a better job, IMO, of giving the audience a window into the mind of both participants at this critical juncture. All we get is "After several angry phone calls, e-mails, and texts between the two ..." which IMO doesn't quite have the attention grabbing effect of an actual one of those emails.

2) "In initial postings, [Jason Sechrest] seemed to take Kocis' position, but incidents to follow seemed to push Sechrest and others in the "gay porn establishment" towards Lockhart's position.", then goes on to describes Kocis sending the hired goons to Micky's in West Hollywood. I never thought before how the hired goons was a turning point, but reflecting on it now I can see how this must indeed have been the case. In fact, it was this incident which first made me aware of the existence of the whole drama (when Jody Wheeler wrote about it). So, it's fair to say it was a turning point for those outside the establishment as well.

3) "Does Cobra Video live on?" and following sections. Good sections, but why here? Seems like the back of the book would be a better spot, along with the rest of the where-are-they-now reminiscing. Not a big deal really, but just seems odd.

Update 8: Chapter 4 moves into Harlow and Joe territory. And it's not to far into the chapter when we encounter a hum-dinger of a fact: "It reflected the huge investment the couple put into marketing...more than $120,000 annually in advertisements placed in gay publications in Baltimore, Richmond and Washington, DC."

$120 grand a year in advertising? In three local gay media markets? OK, I'm no expert on what advertising costs these days, but I'm having trouble believing this. So naturally, I go to the footnotes. Let's see here, this is Chapter 4, footnote 1 on this little factoid, checking it out I see: "Kerekes letter to AES, 5-4-09"

Oh lord. Well, all I can say is...that explains it!

I'll have more to say on the value of these interviews with and letters from Joe as time goes by...but for now, lets just say that my initially very low expectations have been non-exceeded.

Update 9: Wow: "The dichotomy of Joe Kerekes is one that goes all the way to his sexual identity as well...."I still do not call myself gay. I just love Harlow.""

Plus: "Kerekes says his feelings for Cuadra remain strong..."We are still hot and heavy. I have hundreds of letters that I have received since our arrest (from Harlow)..."

All of these quotes comes from the post-trial "Kerekes letter to AES".

Now, stop and think about this for a minute. Lets say these "hundreds" of love letters from Harlow to Joe exist, and some if not many (I'm assuming) also date post trial. The same trial where Harlow called Joe a controlling monster who forced him into a murder plot.

That's some Stockholm Syndrome!

Then let's say (and I know this is a pipe dream, but still) Harlow's effort to get a new trial succeeds. What defense is he going to use now, at this new trial? I presume these love letters have been reviewed by prison authorities and very likely photocopied. And are FULLY subpoenable.

Good luck with that "I did it because Joe is evil" defense!

Update 10: "[Hensley's] claim that a U.S. Senator was among the clients for BoisRUs was never confirmed."

A pity. This gets back to all the Harlow "mystery client" conspiracy theories of old, such as the volume of the BBTs being turned down at a certain point while played in the court proceedings, as observed by Quickysrt.

I suspect if the mystery were ever solved, we'd also find out who is currently paying Fannick.