Judge Rules Man Competent to Stand Trial

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TOWANDA — A judge in Bradford County has ruled that accused double murderer John DeSisti, 75, of Waverly, New York is competent to stand trial.

State troopers charged DeSisti with the shotgun slayings of his cousin Carol Keeffe and her husband David at their home near Athens in 2006. His trial was postponed indefinitely last year when DeSisti’s mental condition came into question.

Defense attorneys claimed DeSisti suffers from dementia and would not be able to participate in a criminal trial.  However, prosecutors with the Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General argued that DeSisti was faking it.

“The defendant’s claim of incompetence is a tactical one, and that the conclusions reached and opinions offered by defense experts are unsupported by the clinical records or their own observations. The defense experts have conceded the defendant’s non-cooperation. The record herein reveals that the defendant was uncooperative in virtually every effort to assess his condition, and that notwithstanding the existence of some cognitive deficits, the behavior exhibited by the defendant is sufficiently willful and volitional as to reflect an attempt to thwart the Court’s inquiry into his mental status,” wrote Senior Deputy Attorney General Joseph McGettigan in court papers.

Court administrators have not set a trial date yet.