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BOISE -- As an appeal over the competency of a convicted child killer nears in Idaho's U.S. District Court, a judge is sorting out just what expert witnesses should be allowed to testify about in the case.

Joseph Edward Duncan III was sentenced to death in 2008 after admitting he kidnapped and tortured two northern Idaho children before killing one of them. He gave up his appeals later that year, but his former attorneys argued that he wasn't mentally competent and fought the sentence on his behalf.

A hearing on the matter will be held in Boise's U.S. District Court in January.

Duncan's defense attorneys say the crux of the case is whether Duncan suffered from religious delusions or merely held unusual religious beliefs, according to court documents.

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