BOISE -- A court process to see if convicted child killer Joseph Duncan should be re-sentenced is wrapping up. At question is Duncan's competency when he represented himself and waived rights to appeal after being sentenced to death for kidnapping a north Idaho brother and sister, and killing the boy.

In 2005, Duncan was arrested for murdering four members of a North Idaho family, including Dylan Groene, and the kidnapping of Dylan's sister Shasta. He received three federal death sentences and nine life terms. Duncan represented himself during the sentencing phase and later waived his right to appeal.

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ordered a retroactive competency hearing, which began last month. The court hearing went for six weeks, and on Thursday, the government and defense each spent a half hour outlining their cases during closing arguments.

The government has the burden of proof and called 18 witnesses during this hearing to prove while Duncan may have unusual thoughts and beliefs, that he was legally competent to waive his rights.

Duncan's attorneys called 26 witnesses and argued that Duncan suffers from mental diseases and defects that make it impossible for him to make rational decisions.

From now, the court will transcribe the hearing and the attorneys must write out their arguments and submit them. U.S Attorney Wendy Olson says because of that process, it will take months to find out who the judge agrees with.

It will probably be at least two and a half months before all the briefing is completed. The transcript in this case is likely to be in the neighborhood of 7,000 to 8,000 pages, and the court reporter will need to take some time to make sure that the transcript is as accurate as can be based on her work in the court, Olson said.

If the judge finds Duncan was incompetent to waive appeals, he will then decide if Duncan was competent to represent himself during sentencing. If the judge decides he was incompetent then, Duncan would be resentenced. Conversely, if the judge finds him competent, government attorneys says defense would likely appeal that decision.

Read or Share this story: