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Supreme Court denies Joseph Duncan's petition to appeal

Joseph Duncan

BOISE -- The United States Supreme Court denied convicted killer Joseph Duncan’s petition to hear his appeal on Monday. Duncan made headlines in north Idaho in 2005 with the murders and kidnapping of the Groene family.

The decision leaves in place Senior U.S. District Court Judge Edward J. Lodge’s December 2013 finding that Duncan was competent to waive his appeal, which had been affirmed by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in March 2015.

Duncan was sentenced to death in August 2008 by a jury. The three federal death sentences also remain in place. However, no execution date has been set.

Lawyers for Duncan can still seek other post-conviction relief through federal habeas proceedings.

Duncan pleaded guilty in federal district court in Boise in December 2007 to a 10-count indictment charging him with various crimes related to the 2005 kidnapping and murder of 9-year-old Dylan Groene and 8-year-old Shasta Groene from their home outside Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.

Duncan admitted killing the boy in the Lolo National Forest in Montana.

Three of the charges to which Duncan pleaded guilty made him eligible for the death penalty under federal law. Duncan was represented by legal counsel at his guilty plea, but elected to represent himself at the capital sentencing hearing.

Although Judge Lodge found both that Duncan was competent to represent himself at the capital sentencing hearing and subsequently to waive his right to appeal, the Ninth Circuit originally ruled in July of 2011 that Judge Lodge should have held an evidentiary hearing on competency and ordered him to do so retrospectively.

Judge Lodge conducted the hearing in January and February of 2013. He issued a 66-page order in December 2013 finding Duncan competent. After the Ninth Circuit affirmed that decision last year, Duncan’s attorneys sought Supreme Court review through filing of a petition for a writ of certiorari. Monday, the Supreme Court denied the petition.

Duncan also pleaded guilty in Idaho state court for the 2005 kidnapping and murders of his federal victims’ mother, 13-year-old brother and mother’s boyfriend.

He separately pleaded guilty in Riverside County, California, to the murder of an 11-year-old boy there in 1997.

In addition to the three federal death sentences, he faces six life sentences for his Idaho state convictions, three life sentences for his Idaho federal convictions, and one life sentence for his California conviction.