Last updated: March 19. 2013 11:54PM - 5377 Views
By - elewis@timesleader.com - (570) 991-6116

Hugo Selinski is escorted into the Luzerne County courthouse by sheriff deputies Friday, March 15, 2013. Don Carey / Times Leader Photo
Hugo Selinski is escorted into the Luzerne County courthouse by sheriff deputies Friday, March 15, 2013. Don Carey / Times Leader Photo
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WILKES-BARRE — The cost to defend and prosecute Hugo Selenski on capital homicide charges continues to grow — with no end in sight.

Records from the Luzerne County Controller's Office show $90,869 has been paid to attorney Shelley Centini since she was appointed by the court in January 2012 to defend Selenski, and $23,913 was paid to private investigator James Sulima, a retired Pittston City police detective who owns JS Investigation Consulting. Sulima working on behalf of Selenski's defense.

There were no records from the controller's office for attorney Edward Rymsza, who was appointed along with Centini in January 2012 to defend Selenski.

Nearly $200,000 has been paid for various work for the prosecution, including expert witnesses, airfare, lodging and meals from 2005 through 2012.

Centini said during a hearing last Friday that the District Attorney's Office has spent about $1 million since the bodies of Tammy Fassett and Michael Kerkowski, both 37, were found buried on June 5, 2003, outside the Kingston Township home where Selenski lived.

Selenski, 39, is facing the death penalty if he is convicted in the killings of Fassett and Kerkowski.

Investigators said the two were killed for money at Kerkowski's Hunlock Township home on May 3, 2002. A day later, Selenski allegedly deposited more than $10,000 into the bank account of his then-girlfriend, Christina Strom, to cover the closing cost of the Kingston Township property she purchased on April 30, 2002, according to arrest and court records.

Centini, through a spokesperson on Tuesday, declined comment, citing a long-standing, court-imposed gag order.

District Attorney Stefanie Salavantis could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

The court order that appointed Centini to defend Selenski says she was to earn $85 per hour without benefits with a cap of $40,000, equal to about 470 hours of work. The court order that hired Centini as a private contractor is subject to change.

During Friday's hearing, Centini said she has not received payment for her work since October.

Records from the controller's office say a $17,813.64 check was drafted on Nov. 16 and a $4,882.90 check was drafted on Feb. 12 for Centini.

A court order of June 15 dealt with Selenski's funding but remains sealed.

Selenski's trial has often been continued since he was charged in May 2006. The trial is currently delayed due to an appeal Centini filed in November with the state Supreme Court.

Selenski, who was sentenced in September 2009 to 32 1/2 to 64 years in state prison for a home invasion conviction in Monroe County, was moved Monday from the Luzerne County Correctional Facility to the State Correctional Institution at Mahanoy near Frackville in Schuylkill County.

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