U.S. District Judge Edward Lodge announced today that even after receiving an evaluation of confessed killer Joseph Duncan’s mental competency, he’s not ready to rule on whether Duncan can act as his own attorney in his death penalty hearings until there’s further review.
In a press release, the court announced, “The court has, on its own motion … elected to seek a further mental competency evaluation of the defendant, which will necessitate an additional delay in these proceedings.”
The case has been on hold since April 22, when jury selection proceedings were halted so Duncan’s competency could be evaluated. A competency evaluation was completed by a Boise clinical psychologist and submitted to the court under seal. But Lodge now wants more.
Duncan has admitted murdering three members of the Groene family at their North Idaho home in 2005 in order to kidnap the family’s two youngest children, whom he then held captive and repeatedly abused before killing one, 9-year-old Dylan. The only survivor of the attack on the family was then-8-year-old Shasta Groene, who was rescued after being spotted with Duncan at a Coeur d’Alene Denny’s restaurant seven weeks after her ordeal began.
Duncan has pleaded guilty to all charges in a 10-count federal indictment, several of which carry the death penalty. The current hearings are to determine whether his sentence will be death, or life in prison without the possibility of release.
Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.
P.O. Box 2160, Spokane, WA 99210
Main switchboard: (509) 459-5000 • (800) 338-8801
Newsroom: (509) 459-5400 • (800) 789-0029
Customer service: (800) 338-8801