DeSisti Awaits Decision From Court
The issue at hand on Friday, June 10 at the Bradford County Courthouse, was whether the Commonwealth’s request to restrict John DeSisti’s visiting rights would be granted. DeSisti will continue to have communication rights with family and friends until next month.
John Flannery, prosecutor from the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s office, stood before Judge Maureen Beirne on Friday to site specific parts of taped prison conversations held between the accused, John DeSisti, and his wife, Nancy, between February and April of this year.
These included threats of bodily harm aimed at the prosecution team, State Trooper Jeffrey Sredenscheck, and the investigating grand jury. A recording from March 11 had DeSisti saying he wants “both their throats cut, both of them” and makes sure on Feb. 14 that his wife remembers the name of Trooper Jeffrey Sredenscheck and that he wants to tell Johnny (son of defendant and Nancy) about him.
On March 15, Nancy DeSisti encouraged her husband to stay strong saying, “Please, just do that for me, because when this ends, believe me, there’s going to be heads that roll.” Again on March 23, Nancy DeSisti and her husband were recorded discussing what the authorities were doing to the defendant, and Nancy DeSisti is recorded as saying, “It’s going to turn right around and bite them in the ass.” From another conversation recorded at the Bradford County Jail on April 8, Nancy DeSisti tells her husband that “somebody’s going to pay, don’t worry” and “I am hoping they all blow up.”
Flannery pointed out before the Bradford County judge that these statements made by the defendant and his wife “are completely unforgivable, lethal and unconscionable and the court needs to step in and take action…the court has the authority.”
Defense attorney, Arthur Donato Jr., of Media, PA, countered that the prosecution picked out a handful of conversations from hours of tape and that it wasn’t clear as to who DeSisti and his wife had been talking about. “There is no case here to limit contact and these comments should not be taken seriously,” Donato said. For all Donato knew, they could have been talking about him and a member of his team. He suggested that DeSisti could be told that any further conversations of this type would result in contempt of court being filed. Donato also pointed out to Judge Beirne that DeSisti is not a sentenced prisoner and is presumed innocent at this time and “family is integral to the case and defense.”
Judge Beirne informed both sides that she would look into this more thoroughly and would rule on the petition at a later date. She will be requesting trial time for the end of July to have a decision on visitation and new testimony.
It should be noted that there has been concern surrounding Judge Beirne and whether she would be able to oversee the trial in a fair manner. She brought to the court’s attention that she knew both the DeSisti and Keeffe families. Beirne grew up on property adjacent to Carol Keeffe’s and now resides approximately half a mile from the Keeffe home in Athens Township. She knew David Keeffe through the court system as they both practiced law at the same time and had attended some of the same functions over the years. David Keeffe’s daughter and son-in-law joined the firm of DeSisti and Keeffe in 2002, and they have tried cases in front of Judge Beirne over the past two years. She attends the same church as the DeSisti family, and two of the DeSisti children bartended in a restaurant that Beirne and her husband frequented. On a few occasions, Beirne and her husband hired one of the DeSisti children to bartend at their personal functions. Beirne’s stepdaughter was also a close friend to DeSisti’s daughter when they were growing up. Judge Beirne feels confident that even with that history, she can be impartial and fair on this case and both counselors agreed with her.
John DeSisti, 74, Waverly, faces two charges of murder and one count of burglary. He is being held without bail at the State Correctional Institution in Dallas. This transfer occurred on Thursday, June 2 following the petition to prohibit any prison visits or telephone calls from anyone other than his attorney. He was previously incarcerated at the Bradford County Correctional Facility since his arrest on Dec. 8, 2010.
DeSisti’s cousin, Carol Keeffe, and her husband, David Keeffe, were found murdered in their Athens home on Nov. 17, 2006. There had been a long-standing dispute over property lines between DeSisti and Carol Keeffe, which led DeSisti to allegedly ambush his cousin and murder her and her husband. DeSisti could face the death penalty if he is found guilty.
By Kelly Cole