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Jury foreman haunted by Duncan trial

The foreman of the jury that sentenced killer and child molester Joseph Duncan to death has “no regrets” about the unanimous verdict, which jurors reached in just three hours. “To me, the evidence was overwhelming,” said Chris Robbins, speaking publicly about his experience for the first time. “I truly have no regrets about the decision we made. … I hope that our decision stands and I hope that his time on death row is limited.” The young father and health care worker was immersed in the dark, sadistic world of Joseph Duncan for nearly a month, spending lonely nights in a Boise hotel 120 miles from his family, whom he saw only on weekends. Watching the Olympics on TV was the only welcome distraction. Forbidden to talk about the horrors he saw in court each day, even to other jurors, he spent “a lot of sleepless nights in Boise.”

It took weeks after the verdict before he was ready to talk about it, and he debated long and hard before deciding to share his story. He opted to tell it to The Spokesman-Review, because we were the “least pushy” in asking, and because our newspaper serves North Idaho, including the Wolf Lodge Bay area where the crimes began when Duncan invaded the Groene family’s home with murder, kidnapping and torture on his mind. Robbins hopes the dark lessons he learned on the jury can help others keep their kids safe from predators like Duncan. He feels deep sympathy for the father of the murdered children, Steve Groene. The best moment of the case, Robbins said, was when Groene “came out and thanked us at the end, because I felt like we did justice for him and his family at that point.” You can read my full story here in today’s Spokesman-Review.


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Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.

Named best state-based political blog in Idaho for 2013 by The Fix

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