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Eye On Boise

Mon., April 14, 2008, 10:30 a.m.

Duncan case turns Boise Centre into courthouse

Hundreds of potential jurors started lining up outside Boise’s convention center as early as 7:30 this morning, in a line that snaked through the city’s central Grove plaza, to start the process of deciding whether Joseph Duncan should die. The 327-person jury pool is the largest ever called in federal court in Idaho, said court administrator Cameron Burke. Of the 327 Idahoans from 16 southern Idaho counties, 325 came, Burke said. One of the two who was missing had a medical emergency. “It’s a good reflection of our citizens that 99.9 percent of our citizens showed up,” Burke said.

The case is a grisly one. Duncan already has pleaded guilty to all charges in a 10-count federal indictment for kidnapping and molesting two North Idaho children and killing one. He’s also pleaded guilty to state charges for murdering three members of the children’s family in a bloody attack in 2005 to get to the youngsters, then 8 and 9.

U.S. District Judge Edward Lodge told the full lecture hall in the convention center, where jurors filled nearly every seat and attorneys, court staffers and Duncan were lined up on a stage with the judge, “Although we are meeting away from the United States Courthouse in downtown Boise, this is a part of the official proceedings in this case. The primary reason we are gathered here is there is no space in the Courthouse that is large enough to accommodate all of the chairs necessary to comfortably seat you.”

Duncan, looking thin and hugging his arms over his stomach in a bright-orange prison jumpsuit, sat uncomfortably in the front row on the stage, between two of his attorneys. As the judge read the list of charges against him, he sat blinking, looking mostly down at the table in front of him. His short-sleeved jumpsuit was open at the neck, showing a not-so-white T-shirt beneath. Incarcerated for the past two and a half years since his arrest with the lone survivor of the attack, young Shasta Groene, Duncan has since grown his hair out to just beyond chin length, where it hangs, shaggy. He also has a new sparse mustache and beard.

“A jury will be chosen to determine whether or not Mr. Duncan receives a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of release or the death penalty,” Judge Lodge told the jurors. You can read my full story here at

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Eye On Boise

News, happenings and more from the Idaho Legislature and the state capital.