In brief: Duncan attorneys seek 18-month trial delay


Attorneys for convicted killer Joseph Duncan want to postpone his federal trial by a year and a half.

Thursday’s request by Duncan’s attorneys comes a day after a request by federal prosecutors to delay the trial, set to start March 20, until July 9. But Duncan’s attorneys are asking the trial be set for Aug. 18, 2008, so they have more time to investigate and review evidence.

Duncan faces federal charges and the death penalty for crimes he allegedly committed against Dylan and Shasta Groene, including the murder of 9-year-old Dylan. Investigators say Duncan kidnapped the children from their home near Coeur d’Alene in May 2005 after he killed their mother, 13-year-old brother and mother’s fiancé. The children were held captive at a remote Montana campsite for weeks and repeatedly molested, and Dylan was later killed, investigators said. U.S. Attorney Tom Moss on Wednesday sought a short extension, saying more time was needed to disclose the government’s expert witnesses. But Moss said any delay beyond July 9 could be detrimental to Shasta Groene, now 10.

Taryn Brodwater

Washington, D.C.

Timber payment bill attached to war plan

Northwest members of Congress are maneuvering to extend payments to financially strapped schools and counties near national forests for at least a year.

Four U.S. House members from Oregon announced Thursday they had placed a one-year extension to the payments on the supplemental spending bill that will pay for the war in Iraq and Afghanistan.

That bill is likely to pass Congress but faces a veto threat from President Bush if it includes a requirement to withdraw troops from Iraq next year.

Rep. Bill Sali and and Sen. Larry Craig, both Republicans from Idaho, also are pushing for a one-year extension. Craig introduced an extension in the Senate while he and other senators could work on a more comprehensive solution. Craig said he planned to attach the extension to “any legislation being considered by the Senate.”

The payments were established in 2000 as a way to help school districts and counties that had seen dramatic drops in revenue from timber sales in the national forests.

– Jim Camden

Coeur d’Alene

Avista work may release wave of stink

If you smell something foul Tuesday in Coeur d’Alene, don’t blame the dog.

The rotten egg smell added to natural gas may be evident in part of the city when Avista Corp. decommissions aging odorant tanks at the Avista Coeur d’Alene Service Center, 1735 N. 15th St.

The tanks contain mercaptan, a chemical that gives natural gas its distinct odor to warn people of leaks. Natural gas has no odor.

There is no natural gas involved in the process, but it is possible that minor amounts of mercaptan could be released. This does not signal a natural gas leak and there is no danger to the community, Avista said.

Work is expected to be completed by the end of the day.

The utility cautioned that natural gas customers who smell gas inside a home or business should open outside doors and windows and call Avista from a neighbor’s phone.

– From staff reports

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