Defense experts: DeSisti has months to live

By Kelly McCarthy

Defense experts: DeSisti has months to live

June 17, 2013 Updated Jun 17, 2013 at 7:50 PM EDT

Towanda, PA (WBNG Binghamton) The Waverly man facing double homicide charges in Bradford County only has months to live, according to medical experts for the defense.

A two-day competency hearing for John DeSisti began Monday in Bradford County Court.

He is charged with shooting to death his cousin Carol Keefe and her husband David. The two were found in 2006 in their home in Athens Township. DeSisti was arrested in December 2010.

DeSisti now uses a wheelchair and has not spoken a word in court. The defense says he suffers from Alzheimer's-type dementia and Parkinson's disease.

Defense experts in psychology and Alzheimer's say DeSisti no longer understands the charges he faces.

They assume he only has six and 12 months to live because dementia has caused so much damage to his brain.

In the hearing Monday in Bradford County Court, DeSisti's wife testified on what she says is her husband's declining physical and mental state. John DeSisti has dementia.

While his wife was on the stand, DeSisti kept his gaze fixed to the wall and did not acknowledge her remarks.

His wife became emotional when defense attorneys asked her if her husband's behavior was just him being stubborn.

There were times when the DeSisti had intermittent tremors in court, causing the handcuffs around his wrists to clank together.

Prosecutors say DeSisti's competency only became an issue after jury selection began for his trial. As of May 2013, the only medication that DeSisti is taking is for Parkinson's.

After his last competency hearing in January, the judge ruled DeSisti competent to stand trial. The judge wrote in his decision, there is a difference between being unable to answer, and choosing not to.

This second competency hearing continues Tuesday in Bradford County court.