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Joseph Duncan, who is on death row, has terminal brain cancer

Attorneys disclosed in court filings earlier this year that Duncan underwent brain surgery last October and was diagnosed with stage IV brain cancer.
Joseph Duncan

SPOKANE, Wash. — Convicted child killer Joseph Duncan has terminal brain cancer and will likely die before his federal death sentence is carried out, according to court documents obtained by the Associated Press.

Duncan, a convicted sex offender, murdered Brenda Groene, her boyfriend and son at their home near Coeur d'Alene in 2005. Shasta Groene and her brother, Dylan, were kidnapped by Duncan and molested. Dylan was eventually murdered.

Shasta was rescued when Duncan stopped at a restaurant in Coeur dÁlene and the girl was recognized by the staff.

In December 2007, Duncan pleaded guilty in connection to the murders and currently sits on death row in federal prison in Indiana. On Aug. 27, 2008, a jury found him eligible for the death penalty on all three counts of murder and the court immediately imposed the death sentences. He was sentenced to multiple terms of life imprisonment and terms of 120 months imprisonment on the remaining crimes.

In March 2019, a federal court judge denied Duncan's petitions to vacate his three death penalty sentences.

Duncan was also linked by DNA to the murder of a 10-year old boy in California, the Associated Press reports. He was convicted of that crime after the murders and kidnappings in North Idaho.

Attorneys disclosed in court filings earlier this year that Duncan underwent brain surgery last October and was diagnosed with glioblastoma, stage IV brain cancer, the Associated Press reports. According to court records, he has declined chemotherapy and radiation.

“In November 2020, Bureau of Prisons medical staff determined his life expectancy to be 6-12 months….medical staff discussed end-of-life preparations with Mr. Duncan,” according to court documents.