Sunday, July 13, 2014

Prison change limits Selenski access to attorneys

July 24. 2013 12:36AM

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WILKES-BARRE — Double-homicide suspect Hugo Selenski is expected to be transferred from the Luzerne County Correctional Facility to the State Correctional Institution at Mahanoy City, which has stricter rules and policies for when attorneys meet with their clients.

For example, hand-to-hand exchanges of letters and court documents between Selinski, 39, and his attorneys, Shelley Centini and Edward Rymsza, will end, at least temporarily.

Deputy Warden James Larson testified at a hearing in March that it took two correctional officers to walk Selenski from his cell in the restrictive housing unit to the inmate visitor’s room to meet with his legal defense team. The two officers stood outside the glass-enclosed room, Larson said.

Centini and Rymsza met with Selenski in a private, glass-enclosed room equipped with a panic button at the county prison. They were free to pass letters and documents whenever they met.

Judge Fred Pierantoni III on Friday ordered Selenski to be returned to SCI-Mahanoy City now that his trial for the strangulation deaths of Tammy Fassett and Michael Kerkowski has been continued amid an undisclosed grand jury investigation connected to the decade-old Selenski case.

Selenski was still at the county prison on Tuesday. He has been bounced back and forth between the county facility and SCI-Mahanoy City several times as his lawyers sought easier access to him.

Assistant District Attorney Jarrett Ferentino said during the March hearing that Centini visited Selenski 144 times, Rymsza met Selenski 17 times and James Sulima, a retired Pittston city police detective who owns JS Investigation Consulting, met Selenski “numerous times.”

Sulima is working as an investigator for Centini and Rymsza.

Pierantoni in March ordered Selenski returned to SCI-Mahanoy City. He was brought back to the county prison in early June in preparation of his trial that was scheduled to begin Aug. 4.

Susan McNaughton, spokesperson for the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections, said state prisons offer attorney visiting rooms and attorneys may bring items to show their clients. Inmates are not permitted to take anything, including paperwork, into the visiting room and are not allowed to take anything from the visiting room, including legal material.

Inmates not approved for contact visits would have non-contact visits with their attorneys separated by glass and using a phone.

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