Guilty but mentally ill verdict in sword slayings

NORRISTOWN, Pa. (AP) — A man has been found guilty but mentally ill in the deadly sword stabbings of his parents and twin brother in suburban Philadelphia more than three years ago.

A Montgomery County judge on Wednesday convicted Joseph McAndrew Jr., 27, of first-degree murder in the March 2011 slayings inside their Gulph Mills home. After his arrest, police said McAndrew had called the killings an "extermination."

Prosecutors argued that McAndrew knew what he was doing and knew his actions were wrong. Defense attorney Paul Bauer sought a verdict of not guilty by reason of insanity, saying his client had stopped taking medication months before the murders.

Judge Gary Silow deliberated for only about 10 minutes before announcing his ruling and ordered a psychiatric evaluation before sentencing.

"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."

Bauer said that whether his client is sentenced to prison or remains hospitalized for treatment, "he'll never be a free man."

Moments after the judge's decision, McAndrew told a reporter that he missed his dead relatives, Joseph C. McAndrew, 70; Susan McAndrew, 64; and his twin brother James.

"I miss my father, that's what I have to say. I miss my father. I miss my brother, I miss my mother and I miss my father, and that's honest. I miss my family," he said as he was escorted from the courtroom, The (Norristown) Times Herald reported.

Joseph McAndrew Jr., then 23, had called the deceased "person called father," ''person called mother" and "person called brother" after his arrest, according to police.

First Assistant District Attorney Kevin Steele said a relative of the defendant in the courtroom told him she was relieved by the decision.

"They had great fear of what he could do if he were released," he said.

During testimony, he suggested to a forensic psychiatrist testifying for the defense that McAndrew had a financial motive to feign insanity because he might inherit more than $1 million from his mother's estate, something he couldn't do if convicted of the slaying but was possible if he was found not guilty by reason of insanity.

Rocio Nell, chief executive officer of Montgomery County Emergency Service, said she hadn't considered that in her evaluation of McAndrew, whom she found "as psychotic as they come."

Attorney Joseph J. Hylan, appointed by the court to be McAndrew's guardian on issues involving his mother's estate, said it's unclear if a person found guilty but mentally ill can inherit, and an Orphans' Court judge would have to make that decision.