George Dukovic and Peter Dobrozdravic, Slovenian-immigrant steelworkers who lived in Etna and worked at nearby Spang & Chalfant, had been quarreling since soon after Dukovic had loaned Dobrozdravic money. Though the loan was repaid, lingering resentment about Dukovic’s erratic behavior led Dobrozdravic to publicly threaten Dukovic and claim he was insane.
Dukovic responded by suing Dobrozdravic for slander in May 1893. Before that suit could be heard, Dukovic was admitted to Dixmont Hospital for the Insane for treatment. Dukovic was released in March 1894.
Still upset about the dispute and convinced that Dobrozdravic led a vast conspiracy to defame him, on the evening of March 12, 1894, Dukovic laid in wait near Dobrodravic’s 45 Sycamore St., Etna home. There he shot and killed Dobrozdravic and fled the scene. He was arrested the next day.
Dukovic’s first-degree murder conviction, on April 20, 1894, was unexpected due to his recent institutionalization and the widespread belief he was insane. His mandatory death sentence was imposed on June 2, 1894.
After numerous delays in the execution of his sentence, in September 1894, a sanity commission determined Dukovic was insane.
On that basis, in December 1894, the Pardon Board made a formal recommendation for commutation. That request was granted on January 3, 1895, and Dukovic was transferred to Western Penitentiary.
Within weeks, Dukovic’s erratic behavior raised concern. He was returned to Dixmont in March 1895.
Dukovic died in Woodville State Hospital, another state mental health institution, on August 21, 1908.
Soon after his trial, Dukovic was the subject of a lengthy article in the Atlantic Medical Weekly, titled “Insanity and the Courts.” The article focused on the challenges of balancing legal concepts with the growing understanding of insanity and its relationship to issues of responsibility. Dukovic’s delusions, feelings of persecution, depression, and suicidal tendencies are discussed.