February 4, 2009 in City, Idaho, Nation/World, Region

Judge: Duncan should stand trial in Calif. boy’s death

Associated Press
 
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In this courtroom sketch, Joseph Edward Duncan III takes the stand in Boise in August 2008.
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INDIO, Calif. — A judge has ruled that a man charged with the 1997 kidnapping, murder and torture of a 10-year-old Beaumont, Calif., boy should stand trial.

Joseph Edward Duncan III faces the death penalty if convicted in of the murder of Anthony Martinez, who disappeared nearly 12 years ago as he played with his brother in an alley.

Riverside County Superior Court Judge David B. Downing also Tuesday ordered a court psychiatrist to meet with Duncan to determine if he’s competent enough to act as his own attorney.

Duncan, 45, was convicted of the 2005 killing of four members of an Idaho family. He was given three death sentences and multiple life terms last year.

Defense attorneys had argued that Duncan should not be tried again in Riverside County because federal prosecutors used Anthony’s death in the previous case to argue that he had a history of crime and violence, and filed a motion saying that trying Duncan in California would be double-jeopardy.

Duncan, wearing an orange jail uniform and chains, sat through most of the 90-minute hearing with his head bowed and eyes closed.

The judge asked why he wanted to act as his own attorney after doing so unsuccessfully in parts of previous trials.

“I think the reasons why I want to represent myself are complex and I’m not prepared to speak to those reasons now,” Duncan said.

Downing said Duncan was “clearly lucid, intelligent and well spoken” but wanted to hear from the psychiatrist before ruling whether he was competent.

“I don’t want to throw someone to the wolves,” the judge said.

In Idaho, Duncan was convicted in federal court of the 2005 kidnapping, sexual abuse and torture of 9-year-old Dylan Groene and his then-8-year-old sister Shasta, as well as Dylan’s murder.

Duncan has also been convicted and sentenced to six life terms in Idaho state court for the bloody rampage at the children’s Coeur d’Alene home. After staking out the home, Duncan broke in and fatally bludgeoned the children’s older brother, Slade, 13, their mother, Brenda Groene, and her fiance, Mark McKenzie, before whisking the two younger children away to remote campsites in western Montana.

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