I only took one day off work – just one – to head to a family gathering in California on Friday. But I returned on Sunday afternoon to find that a big pile of news broke as soon as I left town, including a major development in the federal murder case of Joseph Duncan. Here’s a quick rundown of some of the developments from a newsy couple of days:
* Duncan, who already has pleaded guilty to killing three members of the Groene family in a bloody attack at their home near Coeur d’Alene, was scheduled to go to trial Jan. 28 in Boise on federal charges for kidnapping and molesting the family’s two youngest children and killing one. But now, he’s scheduled for a change of plea hearing on Monday morning – meaning he’s apparently going to plead guilty to at least some of the federal charges – and the “penalty phase” of his case is now scheduled to start at the time his federal trial previously had been scheduled. Duncan faces a possible death penalty on the federal charges, and if he doesn’t get that sentence there, he still could face the death penalty on state charges for the three murders to which he’s already admitted.
* The Idaho Statesman published reports from five men saying Idaho Sen. Larry Craig made sexual advances to them or had sex with them, allegations, the paper said, that “add weight to the evidence that Craig has been living a double life.” Craig, who has strenuously denied being gay, is in the midst of a court fight to overturn his guilty plea in a Minneapolis airport restroom sex-solicitation sting.
* The Nez Perce and Kootenai tribes reached fuel tax agreements with Gov. Butch Otter, joining the Coeur d’Alene and Shoshone-Bannock tribes in resolving the issue before a legislative deadline that fell on Saturday.
* Seven defendants in a major multi-state drug trafficking case pleaded guilty in federal court in Boise, in a case involving an estimated $20 million in proceeds from marijuana growing and sales over 30 years. Charges still are pending against a slew of others, and property in six states could be forfeited. The whole case started with the successful prosecution of Leland Lang of Clearwater, Idaho, several years back.