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The original item was published from 11/3/2020 10:21:20 AM to 2/6/2021 5:05:03 PM.

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District Attorney

Posted on: November 3, 2020

[ARCHIVED] JUDGE: Lancaster Man Charged in Double Murder is Not Competent for Trial


A Lancaster man charged with killing his sister and niece last year is not competent to stand trial, a Lancaster County Judge ordered on Thursday.

Lancaster County Judge Donald Totaro ordered that 57-year-old James Sterbinsky be transferred to Norristown State Hospital for treatment, which a doctor opined will improve Sterbinsky’s status in the “foreseeable future.”

Judge Totaro based his order on a report from a forensic psychiatrist who interviewed Sterbinsky twice and reviewed reports relevant to the case.

Sterbinsky’s condition “has not be adequately treated,” Judge Totaro said, citing Dr. Brett DiGiovanni’s report, which also noted Sterbinsky has refused treatment.

A defendant must be able to participate in their own defense for a trial to commence.

Sterbinsky is charged with two counts of criminal homicide regarding the stabbing deaths of the women, and a count of attempted homicide regarding the stabbing of a male relative who also was at Sterbinsky’s High Street home on July 18, 2019.

On Thursday, Assistant District Attorneys Christine L. Wilson and Janie Swinehart stipulated to Dr. DiGiovanni’s report and did not oppose recommendation that Sterbinsky receive treatment.

Sterbinsky has been at Lancaster County Prison since the killings. He is presumed innocent.

Prosecutors filed a notice of intent to seek the death penalty in the case.

Lancaster city police Detective Heather Halstead filed charges and was presented for Thursday’s hearing.

Sterbinsky appeared via video. Two attorneys represented him in person.

MEDIA CONTACT: Brett A. Hambright, 717-295-2041;; Twitter: @BrettHambright

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