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Archive for Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Prosecutors to seek death penalty for man accused of Idaho slayings

August 24, 2005

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— Prosecutors will seek the death penalty when Joseph Edward Duncan III goes to trial on charges that he bound and killed three people in northern Idaho.

Kootenai County Prosecuting Atty. Bill Douglas made the announcement Tuesday after Duncan's arraignment. Not-guilty pleas were entered on Duncan's behalf to charges of murder and kidnapping.

Douglas said he would seek the death penalty on all six charges against Duncan: three counts of first-degree murder and three counts of first-degree kidnapping.

First District Judge Fred Gibler set a trial date of Jan. 17, 2006.

Clad in red jail overalls, with scruffy hair and a beard, Duncan did not speak during the 30-minute hearing in the Kootenai County Jail courtroom.

When Gibler asked for a plea, Public Defender John Adams said, "We stand silent on that."

The judge entered not-guilty pleas to the charges.

Duncan, 42, is accused of binding and killing three people in a scheme authorities say was designed to enable him to abduct two children for sex.

Before the hearing, Douglas said he believes Duncan can get a fair trial in Kootenai County, despite three months of intense publicity about the killings and simultaneous abductions of Shasta Groene, 8, and Dylan Groene, 9, from the home.


Steve Groene walks to the courtroom where a judge entered not guilty pleas for Joseph Edward Duncan III Tuesday in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. Groene is the father of Slade and Dylan Groene and is the ex-husband of Brenda Kay Groene, all allegedly killed by Duncan.

Steve Groene walks to the courtroom where a judge entered not guilty pleas for Joseph Edward Duncan III Tuesday in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. Groene is the father of Slade and Dylan Groene and is the ex-husband of Brenda Kay Groene, all allegedly killed by Duncan.

Shasta was rescued early July 2 while eating with Duncan at a Denny's restaurant here. Dylan's body was found a few days later in Montana.

Duncan is charged with killing Shasta and Dylan's mother, Brenda Groene, 40; her boyfriend Mark McKenzie, 37; and her 13-year-old son Slade.

Authorities contend he watched their home along Interstate 90 for days, then entered the night of May 15-16, tied up the three victims - the basis for the three kidnapping charges - and beat them to death with a hammer.

Court documents allege he then held Shasta and her brother for weeks at a primitive campsite in Montana where he molested them and eventually killed the little boy.

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