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Judge: Former death-row inmate competent for retrial

Liz Evans Scolforo, 505-5429/@LizScolforoYD
  • Daniel Jacobs was convicted of first-degree murder in the deaths of his girlfriend and their baby.
  • He was sentenced to death for stabbing his girlfriend and got life in prison for drowning his child.
  • His death-penalty murder conviction was overturned 11 years ago, and he awaits retrial.

A York City man convicted of murdering his girlfriend and their baby daughter in 1992 has been found competent to be retried in one of the two cases.

It's been 15 years since an appeals judge threw out the death penalty for Daniel Jacobs and 11 years since one of his two murder convictions was overturned entirely.

Daniel Jacobs

Jacobs, 45, has remained in state prison because his first-degree murder conviction for the drowning death of his baby daughter has withstood his legal challenges. He has exhausted all appeals in that case.

Jacobs is serving life in prison without the possibility of parole for drowning 7-month-old Holly Danielle Jacobs in the family bathtub.

It's his related first-degree murder conviction for the bloody stabbing death of his girlfriend, Tammy Mock, inside their West King Street apartment in February 1992 that was overturned. Appeals attorneys successfully argued that Jacobs' trial attorneys erred by not introducing mitigating testimony, including assertions Jacobs was mentally ill, that his IQ is less than 70 and that he was abused as a child.

Mock, 18, was stabbed about 200 times. She was Holly's mother.

Judge's rulings: On Sept. 29, Common Pleas Judge Harry M. Ness issued an order stating Jacobs is competent to stand trial a second time in Mock's slaying.

"However, after consideration of the testimony during the competency hearing, in addition to the exhibits and reports provided by counsel, this court denies defendant's motion for self-representation," Ness wrote. "This court finds that defendant is unable to enter a waiver of the right to counsel knowingly, voluntarily and intelligently pursuant to Pennsylvania Rules of Criminal Procedure Rule 121."

During Jacobs' Aug. 23 competency hearing, Jacobs indicated he was dissatisfied with the representation of attorney Jeffrey Marshall and instead wanted to represent himself.

In light of Jacobs' concerns, Ness issued a second order Sept, 29, this one allowing Marshall to withdraw as counsel and appointing attorney Kevin Hoffman to represent Jacobs for trial.

Competency at issue in 1992 double slaying in York City

Reached Thursday, Hoffman said he can't yet talk about the case because he hasn't even met with his new client yet.

Jacobs' Aug. 23 hearing centered on testimony from two forensic psychiatrists who disagreed about whether he was competent to stand trial.

Experts disagreed: Dr. Julie Kessel, retained by the defense, testified he isn't competent to stand trial.

Under questioning by Marshall, Kessel said she diagnosed Jacobs with schizoid personality disorder and said he suffers from paranoid features, mild mental retardation and a cognitive disorder.

Dr. Larry Rotenberg, retained by the prosecution, testified that Jacobs has a longstanding non-psychotic view of the world that's not particularly treatable with medication. He also said Jacobs has a litigious paranoid personality.

"He gets his gratification in life from constantly being adversarial, constantly being uncooperative," Rotenberg said, adding Jacobs views the world with "ambivalence and suspicion."

Rotenberg diagnosed Jacobs with paranoid personality disorder and determined Jacobs is competent to stand trial.

— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.