WILKES-BARRE ‚?? The state Superior Court has agreed to expedite an appeal made last week by Hugo Selenski that prosecutors say is meant to delay a double-murder trial scheduled to start next month.
The appellate court, in a one-page order, granted a request by prosecutors to expedite the appeal and ordered attorneys to file court papers by Aug. 27 so a hearing may be scheduled in Selenski‚??s case.
‚??By filing the appeal, (Selenski) is attempting to obtain a delay of trial that he could not obtain by other means,‚?Ě prosecutors wrote in their request. ‚??The commonwealth avers that this delay is the primary purpose motivating the present appeal.‚?Ě
Selenski, 38, could face the death penalty if convicted in the deaths of Tammy Fassett and Michael Kerkowski, both of whom were 37 when they died. Investigators allege Selenski killed Fassett and Kerkowski on May 3, 2002.
He is tentatively scheduled to stand trial beginning Sept. 10.
Selenski‚??s attorneys on Aug. 7 filed an appeal to the Superior Court stating Judge Fred Pierantoni erred when he denied a request to dismiss the charges against Selenski because Selenski was previously prosecuted on a different offense.
Prosecutors tried to have the appeal stopped days later, saying it was frivolous and a tactic to delay Selenski‚??s trial. Prosecutors also said defense attorneys needed to ask Pierantoni‚??s permission to appeal his decision.
Pierantoni responded saying he was confident of the ‚??correctness of our legal determination‚?Ě and that he could not determine if the appeal was frivolous. Therefore, the appeal would go forward.
Prosecutors filed an application to expedite the appeal Monday.
Prosecutors, in their filing, said the current appeal could delay the trial for a ‚??significant further period of time‚?Ě and that prosecutors might be hampered by fading witness memories.
Prosecutors say several witnesses are elderly and in failing health and Selenski‚??s one-time co-defendant, Paul Weakley, has been ‚??attacked three times in prison, and stabbed in the neck and stomach, as a result of his cooperation‚?Ě in the case.
If the appeal were expedited, prosecutors wrote, it would serve the interests of justice by ‚??allowing the commonwealth to commence the trial in a more prompt manner.‚?Ě