DeSisti to remain incarcerated
A judge Wednesday denied a motion by John Joseph DeSisti's attorneys to release him from criminal confinement.
Senior judge David Grine filed the order denying the request Wednesday afternoon in the county Court of Common Pleas.
A hearing had been scheduled Wednesday afternoon in county court to determine whether DeSisti, 76, of Waverly, should be released after Grine found him incompetent to face trial in the Nov. 2006 killings of David and Carol Keeffe of Athens Township.
However, both DeSisti's attorneys and representatives of the state attorney general's office agreed that no further testimony was needed and that Grine could make a decision based on the case's existing record without proceeding to a hearing, according to letters filed with the court. Neither DeSisti nor counsel for either side appeared in court Wednesday.
The order means DeSisti will remain confined until he is restored to competency. DeSisti is currently incarcerated at the state correctional facility at Waymart.
Grine declared DeSisti incompetent to face trial on two counts of murder and one count of burglary in June following a competency hearing. DeSisti's trial had been scheduled to begin in July.
Grine also ordered in June that DeSisti remain in custody until his competency is restored.
DeSisti's attorney, Arthur T. Donato Jr. of Media, Pa., filed a motion in August requesting that DeSisti be released from incarceration or that bail be granted. Donato argued that his declining health and apparent advanced dementia of the Alzheimer's type makes it unlikely DeSisti's competency will be restored.
Experts that testified at the June hearing stated that DeSisti was totally incontinent and noncommunicative toward caregivers, family members and his attorneys.
The state attorney general's office, which is prosecuting the case, opposed releasing DeSisti from criminal detention because he is unable to care for himself and had not named a plan for his treatment following release in court documents, according to a response to Donato's motion filed by deputy attorney general Christopher Schmidt.
"Common sense dictates that this court should not release an individual charged with homicide and who cannot care for himself into the general public," Schmidt wrote.
In the response, Schmidt requested DeSisti remain in custody so officials could monitor his condition in the event that it improves to a point where he could stand trial.
Schmidt called Donato's request an "extraordinary order," as release or bail are not typically granted in capital cases.
State police arrested DeSisti in Dec. 2010 in relation to the Keeffes' shooting deaths at their residence. DeSisti and Carol Keeffe were cousins.
Amanda Renko can be reached at (570) 888-9652; or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.