Stories written by Jo Ciavaglia, award-winning multimedia newspaper reporter at the Bucks County Courier Times in Bucks County, a suburb of Philadelphia, Pa.
For more information about Jo, check out her Linked-in profile, as well as her Facebook fan page, Instagram and Google+
Tuesday, April 18, 2017
Attempted murder suspect, 79, in Evesham case remains jailed despite terminal diagnosis
Posted April 17, 2017
A 79-year-old Camden County man, who doctors say likely has no more than a month to live, will wait two more weeks in state prison before a Burlington County Superior Court judge may consider a motion to dismiss the attempted murder case against him.
The prosecution, defense and judge appeared to acknowledge it is highly unlikely that John Teti, of Barrington, will face trial during a case management conference Monday at the Burlington County Courthouse in Mount Holly. He is charged with the March 2016 near-fatal strangling and assault of his estranged 69-year-old wife outside the Evesham home where she had been living.
Judge Jeanne T. Covert
“This is not someone who can endure trial conditions,” said Burlington County Superior Court Judge Jeanne T. Covert, who is presiding over the case.
The matter will next appear before her on May 1, when the defense is expected to file a motion to dismiss the case.
During his year-plus incarceration awaiting trial on attempted murder and related charges, Teti was diagnosed with lung cancer, which has since worsened and spread to his bones. His health has deteriorated to the point that he was unable Monday to make the hour-long trip from the South Woods State Prison in Bridgeton, Cumberland County, where he has been jailed since last month, to appear in court.
He last appeared before Covert in late January.
Burlington County corrections officials transferred Teti to the state prison's palliative care unit because the county jail was unable to meet Teti’s increasing medical needs. So far, county taxpayers have spent more than $340,000 for Teti’s medical care including an extended hospital stay earlier this year where doctors diagnosed him with terminal stage 4 lung cancer.
He was given a life expectancy of no more than three months in late February, according to court documents.
Teti’s attorney, public defender Jennifer Weiler, on Monday confirmed that her client was unable to appear because of his poor health made the trip too difficult.
Medical documents filed with the court contend that he likely could endure no more than a few hours in a wheelchair and his compromised immune system puts him at high risk for infection if he is placed in a holding cell with other inmates awaiting court proceedings.
But Weiler told the court that she has not yet received medical reports from the state prison that she requested three weeks ago that would provide the most up-to-date information on her client’s health. The documents would also be necessary to prepare a motion to dismiss the case.
Burlington County Assistant Prosecutor Rose Mesa told Covert that the state’s position on Teti has not changed and that the state has no “legal basis’ to dismiss the charges against him.
The Burlington County Prosecutor’s Office has fought five bail motions to release him, and two judges have agreed that he should remain incarcerated until trial. The family of Teti’s estranged wife also opposes his release.
Teti’s niece, Debra Loggia, of Evesham, has been seeking to have her uncle released into her custody since doctors gave him the terminal prognosis; she has offered to take him into her home so he can spend his remaining time in comfort. He is jailed in lieu of $250,000 cash bail.
His trial was originally scheduled to take place in February but was continued to April because of Teti’s deteriorating health.
In an email Monday, Loggia vowed to demand a full review of the prosecutor’s conduct.
"I was once again deeply disappointed in the Burlington County Prosecutor’s Office and Judge Covert who had the opportunity to dismiss these charges based on the critical nature of my uncle’s condition and the fact that everyone agrees there will never be a trial,” Loggia wrote. “At this point he has weeks to live. This is vindictiveness on the part of the prosecutor’s office and they are just delaying until he dies in jail.”