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December 20, 2017

Lawsuit blames parents of Cosmo DiNardo in Bucks County quadruple murder case

The family of one of four young men killed on a Bucks County farm in a gruesome murder case over the summer has filed a wrongful death lawsuit blaming the parents of one of the alleged killers.

Attorneys representing the family of Mark Sturgis filed the civil suit in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas on Wednesday. It names defendants Cosmo DiNardo and Sean Kratz, as well as DiNardo's parents, Sandra and Antonio DiNardo.

It alleges that although Cosmo DiNardo had a history of mental illness, his parents failed to secure the Smith and Wesson 357 he allegedly used to kill Sturgis. The gun was owned by and registered to DiNardo's mother.

The suit, the first civil suit filed in connection with the murder case, also alleges that Antonio and Sandra DiNardo created a dangerous situation by allowing DiNardo to access the farm and the equipment allegedly used in the killings or to hide the bodies.

"With this lawsuit, the heartbroken parents of Mark Sturgis intend to hold accountable everyone responsible for the horrific death of their son, not just those who pulled the trigger," Attorney Robert Ross said in a statement. "This includes those who negligently and carelessly permitted either of the accused to gain access to firearms and equipment used in these heinous crimes."

An attorney for DiNardo's parents told the Inquirer that the couple had done "everything humanly possible" to help their son and had been making progress before the slayings. Kratz's criminal attorney, Craig Penglase, told the newspaper that the suit "added unnecessary complication" to the criminal case.

DiNardo, 20, is charged with killing Sturgis, 22; Jimi Taro Patrick, 19; Dean Finocchiaro, 19; and Tom Meo, 21, last July. Kratz is charged with three of the murders.

The cousins pleaded not guilty last week to a litany of charges tied to their alleged roles in the murders and attempted coverup. 

Prosecutors made a deal with DiNardo over the summer to spare his life in exchange for his cooperation in helping police find the body of Patrick, who was buried alone on a separate section of the property. But Bucks County District Attorney Matthew Weintraub last week still filed notices of aggravating circumstances in the case, which paves the way for prosecutors to possibly seek the death penalty against both DiNardo and Kratz, if convicted. 

Weintraub said the move would give his office the option of seeking capital punishment, should DiNardo fail to "uphold his end of the bargain."

Each of the victims allegedly was gunned down on the DiNardo family's 90-acre farm after meeting DiNardo for an alleged marijuana deal. DiNardo and Kratz are then accused of placing three of the bodies in a pig roaster and lighting it on fire before burying the bodies elsewhere on the farm.