Judge: Accused Double Murderer Competent for Trial

A man accused of a double murder in Bradford County will likely go to trial this year.

John DeSisti’s trial was on hold while a judge determined if he is competent to help in his own defense.

DeSisti is in his mid 70’s and was supposed to go on trial last year for the shotgun killings of his cousin and her husband near Athens in 2006.

But the trial was postponed when defense attorneys pushed to have DeSisti declared incompetent.

This week, we found out, that strategy did not work.

The last time we saw DeSisti was in October at the Bradford County Courthouse in Towanda. His attorneys tried to convince a judge that DeSisti was incompetent to stand trial for murder.

Defense experts testified to as much but prosecutors suggested it was all an act. Now a judge has ruled that DeSisti is competent and should stand trial for allegedly killing his cousin Carol Keeffe and her husband David in 2006 at their home near Athens

It took more than four years for police to make an arrest.

Now more than six years after the Keeffes were murdered, people in the Athens/Sayre area said there’s no sure way to tell if DeSisti is faking a condition but insist he should pay the price if found guilty.

“That kind of person he probably would, he got found he was faking it, hope he gets the whole book thrown at him,” said Mark Elmstrom of Canton.

Clarissa Park has known DeSisti all her life and doesn’t believe he killed the well-known couple or that he is faking dementia.

“He’d be the kind of person to own up to it if he’d done it, he’s not a fake person, not a phony,” said Park.

In the court order from Bradford County President Judge Jeffrey Smith, while it does appear DeSisti has some form of dementia, it doesn’t mean he’s unable to participate in his defense at trial.

In court papers, prosecutors argued that DeSisti did not cooperate with attempts to determine if he was fit to stand trial.

The judge agreed and denied the defense motion this week before his retirement tomorrow.

A trial date for DeSisti has not yet been set.

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