February 2, 2006 in Idaho

Duncan’s defender asks for later trial date

The Spokesman-Review
 
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Background and the latest updates

Kootenai County Public Defender John Adams says he needs more time to prepare a defense for homicide suspect Joseph Duncan.

Adams asked Wednesday that Duncan’s triple-murder trial be rescheduled no sooner than mid-November. First District Judge Fred Gibler already granted a four-month extension on the original January trial date. He will consider the new motion Feb. 23.

Adams said the outcome of an insanity defense case before the U.S. Supreme Court, expected this summer, could pertain to the Duncan case. He has asked Gibler to declare Idaho’s 1982 repeal of the insanity defense unconstitutional.

The public defender also replied to the prosecutor’s opposition to Adams’ request to bring in jurors from outside the county. Prosecutors say an impartial jury can be found from a larger jury pool in Kootenai County.

But Adams said the larger pool doesn’t matter because of “a saturation of prejudicial news coverage,” including local news stories and letters to the editor.

“From the tone of many of the statements,” Adams wrote, “Mr. Duncan has been tried and convicted in the court of public opinion.”

– Taryn Brodwater

Warning issued on Priest Lake fish

Pregnant and nursing women and young children should limit consumption of fish from Priest Lake, Idaho health officials said Wednesday.

Tests of fish caught last spring revealed mercury levels that could affect fetuses or children under age 7, according to the state Department of Health and Welfare. The advisory follows a similar warning last fall for mercury in lake trout and whitefish in Lake Pend Oreille.

Women who are pregnant, breastfeeding or planning to become pregnant should limit consumption of lake trout from Priest Lake to no more than four meals a month, health officials said. Children under 7 should not eat more than two meals a month of lake trout.

Detected mercury levels weren’t high enough to pose a danger to the general public, said Chris Corwin, a spokesman for the department.

Mercury accumulates in fish and may affect the central nervous systems of people who eat it.

– JoNel Aleccia

Boise

Lawmaker makes push for bullying awareness

Rep. Tom Trail hit a bully over the head with his lunchbox when he was in the third grade to stop the harassment he and his schoolmates had endured.

Now the Republican from Moscow hopes to raise awareness about bullying with legislation that would dedicate the second week of September as Bullying Awareness Week in Idaho.

“Bullyism is sort of the minor form of terrorism,” Trail said, and having the week coincide with the anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks is intentional.

The House Education Committee voted unanimously Wednesday to introduce the bill.

– Betsy Russell

Democrat bows out of race for House seat

A North Idaho Democrat opted out Wednesday of the heavily contested race for the 1st District congressional seat.

Rand Lewis, former director of the Martin Institute at the University of Idaho, bowed out just a week after indicating he planned to run for the seat now held by Republican U.S. Rep. Butch Otter, who is running for governor.

The decision leaves two Democrats in the May primary: Larry Grant, of Fruitland, a former Micron Technology vice president; and Coeur d’Alene businessman Cecil Kelly.

Lewis, 58, lives in Coeur d’Alene, where he has a family real estate appraisal business and operates a consulting firm on counterterrorism and homeland security.

Lewis said Congress has become divisive. “We must send representatives who understand the need to negotiate good solutions based on cooperation rather than through power politics.”

– Erica Curless


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