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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Shock still fresh

They were ghastly crimes in a tranquil area near Coeur d'Alene. Three dead, bludgeoned with a hammer in their home. Two children missing. No leads or apparent motive.

Duncan doesn’t want Shasta to take witness stand

Steve Groene has made it clear he doesn't want his daughter to have to take the stand and face the man accused of murdering her two brothers, her mother and her mother's boyfriend. Now, the accused has weighed in. Joseph Duncan wants to keep Shasta off the witness stand, according to Duncan's attorney. Kootenai County Public Defender John Adams said his office is "100 percent behind Steve Groene and his attempts to reach a settlement (in the case) to protect his family. We share those concerns and Mr. Duncan shares those concerns."

Groene plea reaches feds

A request by the father of Shasta Groene to drop the possibility of the death penalty in the state murder trial of Joseph Edward Duncan III also has reached the ears of federal prosecutors. Steve Groene has asked Kootenai County Prosecutor Bill Douglas not to seek the death penalty for Duncan in the state's triple murder trial. Now, federal authorities also are discussing a plea deal, a source said Monday.

School may get plaque for Dylan

Shasta Groene thinks it's a great idea to have a plaque memorializing her slain brother on the playground at Fernan Elementary School, her father said Monday. Steve Groene persuaded Coeur d'Alene school board members to reverse their stance on where the plaque should go. Last month, board members voiced concerns that having it at the school Dylan Groene attended would be a painful reminder for Shasta, who still goes there, and would prompt other children to ask what happened to him.

Groene backs life sentence

Steve Groene has asked for the death penalty case to be withdrawn against the man accused of kidnapping his daughter and murdering his two sons last year, Kootenai County Prosecutor Bill Douglas said. Instead, Joseph E. Duncan III would face a life sentence if convicted of the murders. But Douglas said he plans to continue to push for Duncan's death.

Catching up with Steve Groene

KIRKLAND – The man glanced at the stacks of petitions and hesitated. Automatic life in prison for certain sex crimes? "It seems a little harsh," he said.

Washington yard sales to fund ‘Dylan’s Law’

Facing a July deadline for a quarter-million signatures, proponents of a "one-strike" law for sex offenders are holding six yard sales across the state Saturday. "We need the support of the community," said Tracy Oetting, author of Initiative 921.

Playground piece would honor Dylan

Dylan Groene may be memorialized with a piece of playground equipment at Fernan Elementary School. The school's principal has been contacted by a North Carolina man who wants to raise money for a Wall Ball – a wall children can bounce balls off – as a memorial to Dylan, who attended the school, Coeur d'Alene Superintendent Harry Amend said Monday.

States get tougher on sex offenders

OLYMPIA – Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire signed on Monday more than a dozen changes toughening sex offender laws, many prompted by lawmakers' revulsion over child rapist Joseph Duncan's alleged attacks and assaults on two Idaho children last year. "This is landmark legislation," Gregoire said, surrounded by sheriffs, state Attorney General Rob McKenna, victim advocates and others who had pushed for harsher penalties.

Deadline looms for suit over Duncan’s release

DETROIT LAKES, Minn. – A deadline for serving Becker County with a lawsuit over the release of accused kidnapper and killer Joseph E. Duncan III is approaching, but the county hasn't received the paperwork. Jon Iverson, a lawyer for the county, said Tuesday that it was unusual the county hadn't been served and that he had "never seen anything like it."

County watching Duncan case costs

Kootenai County commissioners have asked Joseph Duncan's public defender to get pre-approval for all expenses related to the triple-homicide case. They made the request in a memo to Public Defender John Adams. The lawyer for Duncan said in a court hearing last week there were "funding issues" related to the case. Adams declined to elaborate this week on what he meant by that.

Relatives want death penalty for Duncan

The families of homicide victims Brenda Groene, her son Slade and her boyfriend, Mark McKenzie, said Monday they want the death penalty to stay on the table in the trial of accused killer Joseph Duncan. Duncan's public defender hinted last week that a plea agreement in the triple-murder case may be possible if Kootenai County Prosecutor Bill Douglas does not seek capital punishment.

Our View: Life in prison a sensible penalty for Groene killings

If convicted child molester Joseph Edward Duncan III brutally murdered Brenda Groene, son Dylan and her lover, Mark McKenzie, at their Wolf Lodge Bay home last spring, he ought to die under capital punishment laws of Idaho. If Duncan kidnapped, molested and murdered Dylan Groene in northwest Montana, he should pay the ultimate penalty.

Duncan trial delayed again

Joseph Duncan's triple-murder trial has been postponed until Oct. 16. "No one wants to try this case twice, including me," 1st District Judge Fred Gibler said Thursday in granting Duncan's attorneys a six-month extension.

Duncan trial delay has risks

If suspected killer Joseph Duncan gets his triple-homicide trial postponed, it could be a double-edged sword for his legal team. The extension would give Duncan's lawyers more time to prepare a defense, but it also could give prosecutors an opportunity to bolster their case against the sex offender sitting in a Kootenai County jail cell.

Prosecutors protest delay of Duncan trial

Prosecutors are asking 1st District Judge Fred Gibler to consider the impact another delay in the trial of Joseph Edward Duncan III might have on Shasta Groene. Shasta, 9, is expected to testify against Duncan, who has been charged with killing her 13-year-old brother, her mother and her mother's boyfriend. Duncan allegedly kidnapped Shasta and her 9-year-old brother, Dylan, and held the children for weeks at a remote Montana campground. That's where authorities later found Dylan's remains. Federal charges for the kidnappings and Dylan's death are expected to follow the state's triple-homicide trial.

Response to child molesters: SMAC’M

Tamara Cougar wants Idaho to be as unattractive as possible – at least to sex offenders. She plans to put the message on coffee cups, T-shirts, bumper stickers and even billboards: "Attention child molesters: You are not welcome in Idaho."

In letter signed ‘Duncan,’ author says he’s ‘not crazy’

Joseph Duncan's attorneys are fighting to use the insanity defense in his upcoming triple-murder trial. But in a recent letter believed to be from the suspect, Duncan apparently says he's "not crazy." The Jan. 30 letter was sent to a coordinator of a Washington state initiative to send first-time sex offenders to prison for life. The handwriting and signature appear to match the writing on letters Duncan sent to The Spokesman-Review last fall.

Duncan’s defender asks for later trial date

Kootenai County Public Defender John Adams says he needs more time to prepare a defense for homicide suspect Joseph Duncan. Adams asked Wednesday that Duncan's triple-murder trial be rescheduled no sooner than mid-November. First District Judge Fred Gibler already granted a four-month extension on the original January trial date. He will consider the new motion Feb. 23.

Duncan’s mail logs released

Joseph Duncan has sent more than 60 letters from jail to people including relatives, a former neighbor and a doctor who once told a parole board he thought Duncan wasn't a threat to society. Mail logs from the Kootenai County Jail show Duncan has received more than 100 letters from his mother, brother, the neighbor and others – including evangelists Billy and Franklin Graham and the media.