Man guilty but mentally ill of sword killings of parents, brother

A prosecutor suggested Joseph McAndrew, found guilty but mentally ill of killing his parents and brother, put on an act so he could inherit $1 million.
By Frances Burns  |  Aug. 14, 2014 at 8:30 AM
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NORRISTOWN, Pa., Aug. 14 (UPI) -- A judge found a 27-year-old man guilty but mentally ill of killing his parents and brother with a sword in their suburban Philadelphia home.

After the verdict Wednesday, Joseph McAndrew's lawyer said his client can expect to spend the rest of his life in confinement in prison or in a state mental hospital.

During the three-day bench trial, Paul A. Bauer III had tried to convince Common Pleas Judge Gary Silow that McAndrew should be found not guilty by reason of insanity. He failed.

"It was the verdict that I expected," Bauer said. "I think the insanity defense is an extremely difficult defense to prove in the commonwealth of Pennsylvania."

Silow, who spent 10 minutes weighing his decision, postponed sentencing. He ordered a psychiatric evaluation to determine if McAndrew should remain in the state psychiatric hospital in Norristown where he is currently being held.

McAndrew used a sword to kill his twin, James, and his parents, Joseph and Susan McAndrew, in the family home in King of Prussia in 2011.

During the trial, prosecutor Kevin R. Steele suggested that McAndrew might have been putting on an act so he could inherit his mother's $1 million estate. He asked Rocio Nell, a psychiatrist testifying for the defense, if McAndrew had a "really really powerful motive" to claim insanity.

Nell, who had described McAndrew as being "as psychotic as they come," said she believed he meets the legal standards of insanity.

Whether McAndrew could be his mother's heir remains unclear, given the verdict. If he had been found not guilty by reason of insanity, he could inherit, and if he had been convicted of first-degree murder he would have been barred from benefiting.

Joseph Hylan, a lawyer named to serve as McAndrew's guardian, said the decision will be made after a hearing in Orphan's Court.

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