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Duncan won’t attend arguments

Thu., Aug. 17, 2006

Homicide suspect Joseph Duncan is not expected to appear in court next week during two days of arguments over motions in his triple-murder case, according to the Kootenai County Sheriff’s Department.

Sheriff’s Capt. Ben Wolfinger said Wednesday that Duncan, who is set to go on trial in October for the 2005 slayings of three members of a North Idaho family, will not be in the courtroom for the hearing on pretrial motions scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday.

Defense and prosecution lawyers plan to argue their positions on bringing in an outside jury, taking jurors to the scene of the crime and the potential use of the death penalty in the case, among other motions.

Duncan is charged with killing Brenda Matthews Groene, her 13-year-old son, Slade, and her fiancé, Mark McKenzie, in May 2005.

– Sam Taylor

Man denies trying to hire hit man

A North Idaho man accused of trying to hire a hit man to kill his ex-wife Wednesday pleaded not guilty to the charges in federal court.

Paul W. Driggers, 54, said little except to acknowledge questions by U.S. District Court Judge Larry M. Boyle, letting his federal public defender speak for the most part. His trial is scheduled to begin at 9:30 a.m. Oct. 10.

Kootenai County charged Driggers with one felony count of criminal conspiracy for allegedly offering $10,000 to someone in northern California to kill his ex-wife. He had divorced his wife more than a year earlier without her knowledge, according to complaints filed by her. He has since obtained a marriage license with a woman in Spokane.

Driggers is charged with a federal felony count of the use of interstate commerce facilities in the commission of murder-for-hire.

– Sam Taylor

‘NYPD Blue’ actor will join fundraiser

Actor Dennis Franz of “NYPD Blue” fame will take part in the first Kootenai County Police & Fire Memorial Foundation Inc. Golf Tournament, Dinner & Auction on Friday. Sponsors intend to hold the event annually.

The tournament will begin at 11 a.m. at the Avondale Golf Course in Hayden and is a fundraiser for the foundation, which provides funds for police officers and firefighters in Kootenai County who have been injured in the line of duty.

Franz, best known for his television role as Detective Andy Sipowicz, bought the former Camp NeeWahLu on Kidd Island Bay on Lake Coeur d’Alene.

For tickets or information, call (208) 772-7221.

– Sam Taylor

Robbery suspect pleads not guilty

A Spirit Lake man accused of robbing a Bank of America branch in Hayden pleaded not guilty to the charges Wednesday in federal court.

Ricky Allen Fisher, 26, was also scheduled for a 9:30 a.m. trial on Oct. 10 for robbing the bank. Fisher allegedly handed a teller a note demanding “all the 100s, 50s, 20s and 10s” on July 29. He is accused of displaying a handgun to tellers before getting away with an undisclosed amount of cash.

He was arrested the night of the robbery while working at the Coeur d’Alene Casino. If convicted, he faces up to 20 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and three years of supervised probation.

– Sam Taylor

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