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Duncan evidence won’t be suppressed

Tue., Feb. 5, 2008, 12:52 p.m.

Judge says privacy rights don’t apply to stolen vehicle

BOISE – A federal judge has rejected defense attorneys’ motions to suppress evidence seized from the vehicle Joseph Duncan was driving when he was found with young Shasta Groene, the only survivor of Duncan’s bloody attack on her family.

U.S. District Judge Edward Lodge cited numerous reasons for rejecting the motion, including a major one: Duncan’s red 2005 Jeep Cherokee was stolen, so he had no legal right to object to its search.

“Because the 2005 Jeep was stolen, as evidenced by defendant’s guilty plea to transportation of a stolen vehicle, he has no legitimate expectation of privacy in the vehicle, and, therefore, is unable to challenge the search,” the judge wrote in his decision.

Evidence seized from the vehicle included a laptop computer, a computer storage device and a GPS unit.

Lodge also rejected an attempt to suppress evidence seized from among Duncan’s possessions that were boxed up by his landlord after Duncan abandoned his Fargo, N.D., apartment shortly before the 2005 crimes against the Groene family. Duncan had abandoned the possessions, the judge found, by leaving the apartment, failing to pay rent, and sending an e-mail to a neighbor asking her to take his cats and stating that he wouldn’t be coming back.

Among those items was an immigration document showing that Duncan traveled to Mexico in 1997 around the time of the murder of 10-year-old Anthony Martinez, of Riverside, Calif. Duncan is a suspect in Martinez’s murder.

Duncan has pleaded guilty to all charges in a 10-count federal indictment charging him with kidnapping Shasta, then 8, and her 9-year-old brother, Dylan, molesting the children and killing Dylan. He earlier pleaded guilty to murdering the children’s 13-year-old brother, Slade, their mother, Brenda Matthews Groene, and her fiance, Mark McKenzie, at the Groene family home just east of Coeur d’Alene.

Duncan is scheduled for sentencing hearings in federal court in April to determine whether he will receive the death penalty.

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