Several medical expert witnesses have testified for the defense team of former Pennsylvania State Senator, Raphael Musto, who faces federal corruption charges. Defense lawyers claim that the aging Musto, who is 84, is physically and mentally unfit to undergo the rigors of trial. As reported by the Associated Press, Musto’s defense attorneys had an expert witness testify to Musto’s psychological health, and another two medical expert witnesses offer medical diagnosis that suggest the elder statesmen cannot survive a trial.
Being declared unfit for trial, for either mental or physical reasons, is a rare defense in criminal trials, and is typically restricted to defendants who cannot comprehend the charges they face and the consequences of a conviction. In this case, Mr. Musto’s psychological expert witness testified that the defendant was unable to sustain a conversation, and could likely not testify on his behalf due to his deteriorating mental condition. Supplementing this testimony, medical expert witnesses indicated concerns over liver disease and other physical ailments that have kept the former lawmaker bedridden. Medical and psychological expert witness testimony are critical to successfully arguing a defendant is unfit to withstand trial, and it appears that Mr. Musto’s defense team has taken exhaustive measures to satisfy the need for expert opinion.