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Duncan appeals death sentence

U.S. attorney says move is common in capital cases

BOISE – Joseph Duncan is appealing his death sentence to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Duncan stood silent when the sentence was handed down in August, after he pleaded guilty to all charges. His terse notice of appeal gives no reason for his decision.

Duncan was sentenced to death three times for the 2005 kidnapping, sexual exploitation and murder of 9-year-old Dylan Groene. He also received three life terms in federal prison for kidnapping and molesting Dylan and his then-8-year-old sister, Shasta Groene, who survived.

“I’m really not surprised – I expected it would come,” U.S. Attorney Tom Moss said, noting that most death sentences are appealed.

“They’ll have to point to the things they claim were in error.  … I think Judge (Edward) Lodge did a fine job, I think he was very careful throughout the process, and I think that in spite of the nasty stuff we were dealing with and the strange things that happened with him choosing to represent himself and all that, I think the judge handled it well.”

Moss added, “I’m not greatly concerned about what will happen on appeal, but of course you never know. Nobody can say for sure what’s going to happen.”

Like anyone given a federal death sentence, Duncan has the right to one federal appeal.

Duncan, 45, also has received six life terms on state charges for murdering the children’s mother, their 13-year-old brother and their mother’s fiance at the family’s Wolf Lodge Bay home. He’s not appealing that sentence, which came under a plea bargain.

Duncan’s notice says he’s appealing “the final and amended judgments entered in this case, including (but not limited to) the convictions, the death sentences, the non-death sentences, and all prior rulings and orders.” It was filed by his three federally appointed standby attorneys, who declined to comment.

Riverside County, Calif., officials are in the process of extraditing Duncan to California to face another possible death penalty for the 1997 kidnapping and slaying of 10-year-old Anthony Martinez.

Betsy Z. Russell can be reached toll-free at (866) 336-2854 or

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