Alleged killer incompetent to stand trial

TOWANDA – John Joseph DeSisti, of Waverly, N.Y., accused in the deaths of Sayre attorney David Keeffe and his wife, Carol, in 2006, has been found incompetent to stand trial by Bradford County Court of Common Pleas Judge David E. Grine.

According to court administrator Mary Corbin, Brine made his decision June 26 following a competency hearing June 17 and 18 at the courthouse here.

DeSisti, 76, remains incarcerated because the judge did not release him from criminal custody, according to his attorney Arthur Donato, of Media.

DeSisti is charged with criminal homicide in the Nov. 17, 2006, shotgun killings of the Keeffes in their rural Athens Township home.

Following DeSisti’s arrest in 2010, Donato requested the trial be delayed in order to have a competency hearing for his client, claiming he had Alzheimer’s or some other form of dementia and was not fit to stand trial.

In February, DeSisti was found competent to stand trial by Judge Jeffrey Smithafter undergoing evaluation by both the defense’s and prosecution’s psychiatrists and the findings presented in court.

Since then DeSisti’s condition has deteriorated, Donato said.

According to Donato, psychiatric evaluations were done after a competency hearing in October, again in the spring and most recently on May 1 and May 15.

Donato said he received the judge’s order finding his client incompetent to stand trial on Monday.

“The judge made the correct call. Our experts testified that it wasn’t even close; he is incompetent (to stand trial), and we are reviewing the decision and will decide what steps to take in the future, if any,” Donato said.

“This office will continue to monitor Mr. DeSisti’s state of competency, and make every effort to bring him to trial for the brutal crimes with which he is charged,” a statement Monday from the state Office of the Attorney General, Harrisburg, said.

“The court has found that Mr. DeSisti is presently incompetent to stand trial, and directed that he be returned to prison until he is found competent. Obviously we have opposed his release to his home and into the community, and the court has not permitted that.”

A jury trial scheduled for July 8 has been cancelled and he has been returned to Waymart State Correctional Institution in Wayne County.

If after further evaluation he is found to be competent the commonwealth 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, his first cousin.