February 23, 2011 in City

Duncan lawyers offer to settle California case

John Asbury (Riverside, Calif.) Press-Enterprise
 
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Defense attorneys for the man accused of killing a 10-year-old Beaumont, Calif., boy in 1997 have offered to settle the case with prosecutors.

During a hearing Tuesday morning in an Indio courtroom for Joseph Edward Duncan III, two court-appointed Riverside County capital defenders said they have submitted a settlement offer to Riverside County District Attorney Paul Zellerbach.

They declined to elaborate after the hearing about what the settlement offer entailed.

Duncan was extradited to Indio in January 2009 to face murder and torture charges in the death of Anthony Martinez, whose body was found near Joshua Tree National Park. He had been molested and beaten to death.

Duncan confessed to the slaying in 2005, following his arrest for murdering four members of a family in Idaho. He received three federal death sentences and nine life terms in the Idaho case.

Then-Riverside County District Attorney Rod Pacheco had Duncan extradited to face trial for Anthony’s death, and was seeking another death sentence.

Zellerbach, who took office in January after beating Pacheco in November’s election, has begun reviewing 40 capital cases to determine if the death penalty is appropriate or whether a settlement is possible.

Zellerbach would have to approve Duncan’s settlement offer and is expected to receive the case in the next week.

While declining to give details about the offer, defense attorney Gail O’Rane said it would be illegal to reach a settlement agreement solely to take the death penalty off the table.

A hearing was set for March 7 for the district attorney’s office to say whether a settlement agreement has been reached.

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