ROYALTON -- Homicide suspect Hugo Selenski, his former attorney Shelley Centini and former defense investigator James Sulima are in district court in Royalton, Dauphin County, for a preliminary hearing on witness tampering charges.
 
Selenski was ushered into the courtroom of Magisterial District Judge David Judy under heavy guard for the hearing being held about 10 miles southeast of Harrisburg, where a grand jury heard evidence earlier this year and recommended the charges. 
 
The drama began before the hearing started as Selenski asked told Judy he would represent himself during the hearing. Judy made Selenski sign a waiver and asked him if he was familiar with courtroom procedures. 
 
“Unfortunately, yes,” Selenski said. 
 
Selenski then requested his hand restraints be removed and Judy granted his request after state prison guards hovering over Selenski said it would be OK. 
 
A state grand jury in January accused Selenski, Centini and Sulima of conspiring to pressure prosecution witnesses in Selenski’s capital murder trial, presenting them with handwritten notes from a jailed Selenski that encouraged the witnesses to lie, recant past accusations or simply “shut up.” 
 
They are charged with obstruction of justice, witness intimidation, perjury, theft, conspiracy and various other alleged crimes that prosecutors say were committed to help Selenski beat a double-murder rap and avoid the death penalty. 
 
Al Flora Jr. is representing Centini, who was removed as Selenski’s attorney after he was charged. William Ruzzo is representing Sulima. 
 
They asked judge to dismiss many of the charges prior to the hearing. 
 
Judy denied the request. 
 
“Let’s hear the evidence,” Judy said. 
 
Deputy Attorney General Dan Dye argued that none of the charges should be dismissed.
 
“That will set a standard that defense attorneys are above the law,” Dye said. "They are coconspirators engaged in crimes. They committed the same crimes."
 
Selenski is charged in the 2002 killings of pharmacist Michael Kerkowski and Kerkowski’s girlfriend, Tammy Fassett, whose bodies were found buried in the yard of Selenski’s Kingston Township home in June 2003. Selenski was charged with those killings on March 15, 2006 — minutes after being cleared of an unrelated set of homicide charges in Luzerne County Court.
 
The grand jury presentment regarding the witness tampering charges calls Selenski a “serial killer” and alleges he is responsible for nearly a dozen murders.