Arrow-right Camera


Duncan’s statements ruled admissible

Fri., Sept. 29, 2006, midnight

Jurors in Joseph Duncan’s triple-murder trial can hear incriminating statements the suspected killer made following his arrest, 1st District Judge Fred Gibler ruled Thursday.

Gibler denied a motion by Duncan’s attorneys to keep statements Duncan made about the crimes from being used against him at his trial, which is set to begin Oct. 16.

At issue were statements Duncan allegedly made to local law enforcement officers, a police chaplain, a social worker and FBI agents.

Duncan’s attorneys said he invoked his right to remain silent and had also asked for an attorney. Kootenai County Public Defender John Adams also said any information Duncan shared with the chaplain and social worker was privileged.

Duncan is charged with three counts of first-degree murder for the May 2005 killings of Brenda Matthews Groene, her 13-year-old son, Slade Groene, and Brenda’s fiancé, Mark McKenzie.

Duncan is also charged with three counts of first-degree kidnapping because the victims were bound with zip ties and duct tape.

Federal charges are expected for the kidnappings of the youngest Groene children, Shasta and Dylan, and Dylan’s subsequent slaying.

Adams questioned whether Duncan was properly Mirandized, or informed of his rights, and said Duncan was questioned even after invoking those rights.

Gibler ruled that Duncan made spontaneous statements to officers who came into contact with him the morning of his July 2, 2005, arrest.

As for Duncan’s right to an attorney, Gibler said that didn’t exist until three days later, when Duncan was formally charged with the crimes.

Gibler ruled that the statements made to jail chaplain Robert Smalley and counselor Chrystal Hodgson weren’t protected by privilege.

Both warned Duncan in advance they wouldn’t keep information about the crimes in confidence, Gibler ruled. Still, Duncan talked about the alleged crimes.

“I don’t care what the courts hear,” Duncan was quoted as telling Hodgson.

Excerpts of transcripts from the FBI interview, included in Gibler’s ruling, illustrate Duncan’s willingness to talk with investigators.

“I will go against what my attorney would tell me to do here,” Duncan told FBI agents who came to question him about unrelated crimes.

“I don’t think John Adams really understands,” Duncan is quoted as telling the FBI agents. “I think he’s set. Like you said, you talk to him and he’s gunna (sic) tell you to shut up.”

Duncan told the agents that Adams had advised against talking to investigators.

He said Adams admonished him: “Don’t say nothing to them! Don’t say nothing to them! Don’t say nothing to them!”

Duncan said he told Adams not to worry.

Later in the conversation with the agents, he “spontaneously talked about the Groene case,” according to the ruling.

When reminded the statements could be used against him, he told the agents, “My intention is to talk about it.”

Kootenai County Prosecutor Bill Douglas declined to comment on Gibler’s ruling.

“I won’t comment on a motion or witnesses or evidence this close to the trial,” Douglas said. “We’re going to have to select a jury here. I don’t want to comment on anything.”

Adams did not immediately return calls seeking comment Thursday.

Click here to comment on this story »