Judge rules accused killer can stand trial

TOWANDA – Accused double-murderer John J. DeSisti was ruled competent to stand trial in Bradford County Court in the shotgun slayings of a prominent local attorney and his wife six years ago.

DeSisti, 75, of Waverly, N.Y., is charged with criminal homicide in the Nov. 17, 2006, killings of David and Carol Keeffe in their rural Athens Township home.

DeSisti’s attorney, Arthur Donato, of Media, requested the trial, which was to have started last spring, be delayed by requesting a competency hearing for his client, claiming he had Alzheimer’s or some other form of dementia and was not fit to stand trial.

The hearing was held last fall after DeSisti underwent evaluation by both the defense’s and prosecution’s psychiatrists and the findings were presented in court.

Judge Jeffrey Smith ruled against Donato’s claim Monday, but a trial date has not yet been set, according to the court administrator’s office.

The state will seek the death penalty against DeSisti, who authorities allege killed the Keeffes as a result of a long-standing property dispute between DeSisti and Carol Keeffe, who was his first cousin.