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Double Murder Trial Postponed Indefinitely

Posted on: 5:24 pm, May 8, 2012, by , updated on: 06:32pm, May 8, 2012

A double murder trial in Bradford County is postponed indefinitely, according to court officials.

The court is in the process of finding out if the accused killer is competent to stand trial.

Jury selection has been postponed twice already in John DeSisti’s double murder trial.

DeSisti is from Waverly, New York and is in his mid 70′s.

Newswatch 16 had its first look at court transcripts of a hearing late last month that casts doubts over whether John DeSisti can understand what is happening in a courtroom.

A little more than two weeks ago, John DeSisti was brought to the courthouse in Towanda to begin jury selection phase of his double murder trial.

DeSisti appeared confused as he was led toward the door.

He is accused in the shotgun slayings of his cousin, Carol Keeffe and her husband David Keeffe at their home near Athens in 2006.

The murders went unsolved for several years until DeSisti’s arrest in late 2010.

Instead of attorneys picking jurors two weeks ago, a brief hearing before a judge ended up pushing back the start of trial, all because there was an issue of competency.

According to court transcripts, the judge asked DeSisti to raise his right hand, he raised his left.

The judge asked “How old are you sir?”

DeSisti responded, “47.”

“Sorry?” the judge asked.

“47,” said DeSisti.

“How far have you gone in school?” questioned the judge. DeSisti repeated the question, and responded, “To the 8th grade.”

Later that same hearing, John DeSisti’s attorney told the judge that his client has a case of mild dementia and DeSisti is not competent to stand trial, at least not right now.

Still, no one we spoke with in the Sayre area would comment on the questions surrounding the trial.

Court officials said they expect there will be new developments in the effort to find out if DeSisti is competent to stand trial.

“It’s unfortunate Mr. DeSisti has been incarcerated so long, and disappointed could not have the trial in April,” said DeSisti’s attorney Art Donato.

A criminal competency hearing was scheduled for later this week in Bradford County court. That has been put on hold as well until the court learns more about John DeSisti’s ability to stand trial, perhaps involving additional mental evaluations.

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