Questions of Competency in Murder Trial

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Jury selection was supposed to begin this week for a man accused of shooting and killing his cousin and her husband in Bradford County in 2006.

The start of the trial is now on hold and there is question whether the trial will ever happen.

Jury selection has been pushed back one week in the double murder trial that is nearly six years in the making.

Before jury selection could start Monday, John DeSisti's attorney asked that doctors be allowed to evaluate the accused killer to see if he is competent to stand trial.

John DeSisti appeared confused Monday morning when he arrived at the Bradford County Courthouse in Towanda.

Desisti was arrested in late 2010 and charged with murdering his cousin Carol Keeffe and her husband and prominent attorney, David, at their home near Athens.

The arrest came four years after the shotgun slayings of the well-known couple and this week it seemed as if the trial would finally begin.

All the potential jurors were in place  Monday morning at the Bradford County Courthouse in Towanda. The jurors were sent home, and one day later court orders from the judge said DeSisti needs more mental evaluation to decide if he is competent enough to stand trial.

As recently as last week, a judge ordered DeSisti's neuropsychological evaluation, filed in August 2011, sealed.

Now, a judge has ordered the Bradford County Correctional Facility to allow doctors in to evaluate the 74-year-old DeSisti next Monday.

Prosecutors who do not have any involvement in the case said the evaluation should determine if DeSisti is capable of helping to defend himself at trial by doing things such as answering questions.

Attorneys for the prosecution and defense would not comment on the postponement due to another evaluation for DeSisti.

Officials said DeSisti spent a little more than a week last year at the State Correctional Facility in Dallas.

Those officials did tell Newswatch 16 SCI Dallas has mental health facilities there to treat everything from dementia to other mental health issues.

Again, DeSisti's trial has been postponed another week but time will tell if the scheduled evaluation for the same day will push back the trial again.