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Duncan—death or prison for life?

Good evening, Netizens...

I have completed reading the court transcripts of Joseph Duncan's appearance in court today. Simply reading U.S. Attorney Tom Moss's description of the heinous crimes that Duncan admits freely to having committed is enough to make a caring person lose their lunch, if for no other reason than the meticulous skill he exhibited in planning and executing the murders of Brenda Matthews Groene; the mother's fiancé, Mark McKenzie; and Shasta's 13-year-old brother, Slade Groene. Then we have the most-revulsive crime imaginable, of taking Dylan and Shannon Groene to a remote campsite in Montana with great deliberation and fore planning, where he first raped and murdered Dylan and videotaped the entire event, and then raped Shannon.

Aside from the horrific sequence of events that took place, what makes Duncan's case stand out so vividly is that he planned these events well in advance with fascinating precision, right down to how he would avoid prosecution and/or detection by law enforcement.

On one hand, through the descriptions of how Duncan planned the attacks well in advance, you sense a truly brilliant psychotic individual. That is not to suggest I admire his actions in any way, rather I am totally revulsed and sickened beyond all words at his crimes against society. However, having met and known a few psychotic individuals in life, there are those who, by the very nature of their ability to plan and “think their crimes through” in advance, often attain what amount to sheer genius level thinking. Of such individuals John Gacy comes to mind. Such sick perverted people are often able to elude law enforcement for considerable periods of time. They know how law enforcement works and how to exploit both law enforcement and other individuals around them.

Had Duncan not brought Shannon to the Denny's Restaurant in Coeur D'Alene, had he simply killed her and disposed of the body similar to what he did with Dylan, had he disposed of the Jeep stolen in Minnesota and all of its contents, he might have completely avoided detection and prosecution. He might have even gone on to commit other heinous crimes against children. However you view the nature of his crimes, however you consider such totally aberrant psych-sexual terrorism, he made what may prove to be a fatal mistake when he walked into Denny's with Shannon at his side.

Does he deserve to die for his crimes or should he spend the rest of his natural life behind bars? I'll let you be the judge of that. Duncan has admitted the crimes; now it is time for a jury to select his punishment.


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Spokesman-Review readers blog about news and issues in Spokane written by Dave Laird.