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, and...in 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 happened...it 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.