Mom to murderer: You're 'going straight to hell'
WILKES-BARRE, Pa. (AP) -- A man convicted of strangling a pharmacist and his girlfriend has been sentenced to life in prison without parole.
Luzerne County Judge Fred Pierantoni told Hugo Selenski on Friday that he'll "never again walk the streets of this commonwealth or this community."
A jury convicted Selenski last month of two counts of first-degree murder for killing Michael Kerkowski and Tammy Fassett in 2002. Their bodies were among at least five sets of human remains found in Selenski's yard north of Wilkes-Barre.
Kerkowski's mother testified at Selenski's sentencing and told him he is "going straight to hell."
Geraldine Kerkowksi called Selenski a "useless waste of space and air."
Fassett's sister and niece also spoke of the impact Selenski's crimes have had on them.
Selenski chose not to speak.
THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.
Geraldine Kerkowski knows the northeastern Pennsylvania man convicted of strangling her son, a pharmacist and father of two, probably won't care when she tells him exactly what she thinks of him.
She said his reaction is beside the point.
Nearly a dozen years after the bodies of Michael Kerkowski and his girlfriend, Tammy Fassett, were unearthed from Hugo Selenski's yard, Geraldine Kerkowski said she intends to "clear her gut" when she confronts Selenski at his sentencing Friday.
"He is such a cold-blooded, hard-hearted person that no matter what I say, he's going to have that stupid smirk on his face anyway. But at least I'll know I got to say those things to him," she said.
Selenski, 41, faces an automatic sentence of life without parole after a jury convicted him last month of first-degree murder in the deaths of Kerkowski and Fassett, whose decomposing bodies were among at least five sets of human remains found on Selenski's property near Wikes-Barre in 2003.
Several months after his arrest, Selenski broke out of the Luzerne County jail by fashioning a rope from bed sheets. He pleaded guilty to escape charges and was sentenced separately Friday to a maximum of three years and five months in prison, time already served.
Prosecutors said Selenski and a co-conspirator brutally beat Kerkowski to compel him to reveal the location of tens of thousands of dollars the pharmacist kept in his house, then used plastic flex ties to strangle him and Fassett.
Kerkowski, who considered Selenski his best friend, had pleaded guilty to running an illegal prescription drug ring and was about to be sentenced when he and Fassett were reported missing in 2002.
Weeks after they disappeared, Selenski approached Kerkowski's parents and claimed their son was alive - and needed money to pay a new defense team, Geraldine Kerkowski testified during the trial. Desperate and trusting, they gave Selenski $60,000, money their son had given to them for safekeeping.
"He knew he killed my son and for a year he was at our door, looking for money, trying to make us believe that Michael was still alive. And that just hurts, to think that we were played for such fools," Geraldine Kerkowski, 71, said this week.
After blowing through the money, Selenski showed up at the Kerkowskis' house again. This time he pointed a gun at Kerkowski's father, firing a shot that sailed past his head and forcing him to turn over another $40,000, prosecutors said.
Selenski, who maintains his innocence and is planning an appeal, will also get the opportunity to address the judge. His attorney, Bernard Brown, declined to comment on whether Selenski will speak.
Selenski was charged in the deaths of Kerkowski and Fassett in 2006 after beating homicide charges for two of the other bodies found in the yard. The fifth set of remains recovered by police was too badly burned and could not be identified.
Geraldine Kerkowski said she's written down what she intends to say to her son's killer.
"I just want him to know how I feel, that he cost us so badly," she said.
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