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In letter signed ‘Duncan,’ author says he’s ‘not crazy’

Tue., Feb. 7, 2006

Joseph Duncan’s attorneys are fighting to use the insanity defense in his upcoming triple-murder trial. But in a recent letter believed to be from the suspect, Duncan apparently says he’s “not crazy.”

The Jan. 30 letter was sent to a coordinator of a Washington state initiative to send first-time sex offenders to prison for life. The handwriting and signature appear to match the writing on letters Duncan sent to The Spokesman-Review last fall.

The letter writer said that God has been speaking with him daily and spoke with him after he allegedly kidnapped Dylan and Shasta Groene from their Coeur d’Alene home last year. The letter stated that God appeared between him and Shasta, then 8, and told him to “take her home immediately.”

“No, I’m not crazy, and I’m not ‘hearing voices’ or anything like that,” the letter said.

Citizens for a One Strike Law provided a copy of the letter, sent to Jean Reed, the Vancouver, Wash., area coordinator for Initiative 921, also known as Dylan’s Law. Investigators believe Duncan molested and killed 9-year-old Dylan, although he has not been charged with those crimes or with kidnapping the children.

The recent letter was apparently in response to a letter from Reed that the author described as “rage-filled.”

“It does hurt,” the letter said, “more than you know. My own anger, pain and confusion over what has happened is more than anyone’s (except possibly the families, of course).”

The letter also said the writer is sorry and asks for Reed’s forgiveness. The writer says society needs to be more understanding of sex offenders.

“If you continue to hate me, and even kill me, then you send a message to every other ‘sex offender’ in this country, ‘I HATE YOU! AND I WISH YOU WERE DEAD!’ ” the letter stated.

Reed’s group posted a transcript of the letter online at

The Spokesman-Review contacted Duncan last year, asking him to comment on the charges against him. He wrote back but declined to address the charges.

Duncan is scheduled to go on trial April 4 for the May 2005 bludgeoning deaths of Brenda Groene, her 13-year-old son, Slade, and her boyfriend, Mark McKenzie. Duncan’s attorneys are asking that the trial be postponed another eight months so they can prepare his defense.

A hearing on the motion to reset the trial date is set for Feb. 23.

Public Defender John Adams has asked the court to declare the state’s 1982 repeal of the insanity defense unconstitutional. In a memo filed Monday, prosecutors say the absence of an insanity defense won’t deny Duncan due process.

“The question of criminal accountability, it is universally agreed, should be in the hands of legislators and not psychiatrists,” Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Rick Baughman wrote.

He further wrote that “victims of psychotic killers are just as dead as other homicide victims and society is in as much need of protection from such persons (probably more) as it is from other killers.”

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