The jury in the Hugo Selenski double murder case in Luzerne County will continue deliberations on Tuesday morning. On Monday, the jury deliberated for just over five hours, before being sequestered for the night.
The judge sent the jury off to deliberate a little before 3 p.m. Monday after a lot of drama in the courtroom during closing arguments. Prosecutors are seeking a first degree murder conviction and the death penalty. Both attorneys were fired up as they gave their reasons why Selenski is or is not guilty.
Selenski arrived for court Monday knowing when he leaves he could know his fate. Others arrived early too, lining up at 5:30 a.m. just wanting a glimpse of the courtroom action.
“It’s big for this area. I want to see what’s going down with Hugo,” said Alan Kline of Hanover Township.
“Just to guarantee we get in here I got up at 4:30, picked my friend up and we came up,” said Dave Paveletz, also Hanover Township.
The spectators and the jurors heard each side sum up its case. Defense attorney Demetrius Fannick spent closing arguments attacking the prosecution, calling it a joke, delusional and fabricated.
Fannick focused on reasonable doubt saying, “Is there reasonable doubt in this case? Of course there is. If I just made a list I could come up with 50 reasons. The Commonwealth’s case imploded right before your eyes.”
“Part of my job is to not only bring up the points but to get them across to make them think about those things when they go to deliberate,” Fannick said.
For nearly three hours, he gave reasons. He shredded the credibility of witness Patrick Russin who said he saw Selenski kill Frank James and Adeiye Keiler at his home in Kingston Township. Fannick said it’s more likely that Russin and Paul Weakley framed Selenski, planting bags with burned bones at the house.
Fannick also questioned why there’s no physical evidence of a shooting there. He even tossed hundreds of shotgun pellets on the floor of the courtroom screaming as he made a point that none were ever found. “They should be on the property somewhere. I don’t think they were. It was my way of demonstrating. I threw them on the floor to show they don’t disappear. They go somewhere,” Fannick added.
The prosecution went next with Assistant District Attorney Jim McMonagle laying out the timeline for the killing of James and Keiler. He scoffed at the claim Selenski was framed, telling jurors his key witness, Russin, isn’t smart enough to frame anyone. He said it’s simple, “The bags were there. They had the remains of Adeiye Keiler and Frank James who the defendant shot and burned beyond a reasonable doubt,” McMonagle told the court.
He showed jurors a tray of bones, telling them bag after bag were found at Selenski’s, that Russin’s timeline of what happened there matches other witnesses. He told the jury there’s little physical evidence because Selenski cleaned it up and burned it.
It’s now up to the jurors, even though some in the public have made up their minds. Alternate jurors sat through the trial but are now dismissed. They called the trial an experience. “I have a lot of confidence in the jurors. I’m sure they’ll make the right decision,” said one.
The alternates would not say what their verdict would be. Those that were still deliberating inside the courthouse had two questions for the judge on Monday. In one instance, jurors wanted to know if they think the defendant was at the scene but don’t know if he pulled the trigger can they convict. They judge’s response was no.