“I’m sorry and I would take back what I did,” Cosmo DiNardo said as his words drowned in the unforgivable sorrows of the four families that filled the Doylestown courtroom.
DiNardo, 21, pleaded guilty to more than 20 charges including four counts of 1st-degree murder, abuse of a corpse, robbery and criminal conspiracy. The Bensalem man, with a history of mental illness and police run-ins, admitted last July to killing four young men, Jimi Taro Patrick, 19, Dean Finocchiaro, 19, Mark Sturgis 22, and Thomas Meo, 21, on his family’s farm in Solebury.
Co-defendant Sean Kratz, who is expected in court Wednesday afternoon for a similar hearing, has similar charges for the deaths of Finocchiaro, Sturgis, and Meo.
First Assistant District Attorney Gregg Shore told President Judge Jeffrey Finley he wanted four consecutive life sentences for the four counts of 1st-degree criminal homicide and to waive the rest of the charges’ sentences.
Shore went into detail about the search, investigation and eventual discovery of the backhoe-dug graves. He explained to the Judge again how DiNardo lured the men there to buy marijuana and killed Patrick on his own after he showed up with not enough money. Then days later enlisting Kratz. The duo took Finocchiaro on an ATV ride around the farm before Kratz fired one bullet in his head, and DiNardo shot him again multiple times before lifting him with the backhoe in a tarp rolled body bag.
DiNardo left Kratz on the farm to pick up Sturgis and Meo near Peddlers Village. Once back at the farm, DiNardo shot Meo, who screamed and suffered, then killed Sturgis. DiNardo ran Meo over with a backhoe before lifting them all into a “pig roaster” and attempted to burn their bodies.
That night, they left the farm to have a sleepover, clean the blood, and eat cheesesteaks from Steve’s Prince of Steaks. The next day, DiNardo buried their three bodies and the duo hid the guns, which they stole from DiNardo’s mother, at Kratz’ aunt’s house in Upper Dublin.
“Your apology of sorts, from my perspective, is false and insincere,” Judge Finley told DiNardo.
Defense attorneys told the Judge after two mental health evaluations the reports were, “unable to conclude a criminal conspiracy plea.” While after the hearing they said, “mental illness is real, mental illness is sad, and sometimes it can be tragic.”
Judge Finley said he reviewed DiNardo’s confession from July 2017 last week before the hearing. He explained the tapes were of a man talking with “total disregard” for human life with “no emotion.”
“Malice doesn’t adequately describe the hardness of your heart,” Finely said.
Members from each of the boys’ families gave statements to the Judge, many directing their pain and loss at the killer himself sitting feet away.
“Pray for Jimi’s mother who will no longer have a caregiver after we are gone,” Sharon Patrick, Jimi’s grandmother and adoptive mother due his mother’s mental illness, told DiNardo. “Pray for his pop so he can resume his daily life. And pray for me so that I one day forgive you for losing my whole future.”
Mark Sturgis’ father, Mark Potash, was also his and Meo’s boss at a construction company. He turned and looked DiNardo in his face, as his multi-million dollar family sat behind him, “You are the perfect example of someone who started at the top and worked his way down to the gutter.”
Potash told DiNardo he was an “outcast” and thought he was a “tough guy.” He said his son, Mark, is free, but he will have to live in misery.
“You’ll find it’s harder to fit in in prison than real life, and we know you were bad at that,” Potash turned to DiNardo again before leaving the front of the courtroom. “Your only way out is with a toe tag and that’s what we all hope for.”
Bonni and Anthony Finocchiaro described their son as “loving, honest…with the heart of a lion and feared nothing.”
“I pray that Dean’s spirit haunts you the rest of your miserable life,” his father said.
Meo’s family had two uncles, one aunt, his grandmother, mother, and sister, 13, speak about their “sweet boy Tom.” His mother, Melissa Fratenduono, ended her statement shouting expletives at DiNardo.
The four families never had the chance to properly hug, fully recognize, or properly say goodbye to their lost loved ones due to the condition of their bodies.
DiNardo’s family gave the Judge written statements explaining his mental health issues, and how his life changes from an accident that “made him a different person.”
“I have no doubt in my mind that, should the day ever come that you were released again into the community and had the opportunity to kill again, you would,” Judge Finley said.
DiNardo will serve four consecutive life sentences and pay a restitution fee of more than $42,000.