Deal Struck To Keep Shasta Off Stand

BOISE — Shasta Groene will not have to face the man responsible for the murders of her mother and two brothers in a Boise federal court room.

The deal not to have her testify as a witness at Joseph Duncan’s sentencing hearing was struck between prosecutors and Duncan last week and announced during opening statements Wednesday.

Instead of having Shasta in the courtroom facing Duncan both sides agreed they would allow videotaped interviews that Shasta participated in with investigators following Duncan’s arrest.

As jury selection progressed and the day of opening arguments drew closer the question of whether or not Shasta Groene would be called to testify by either said became a focus of preparations for the sentencing.

Last Tuesday Judge Edward Lodge issued several rulings dealing with the delicate nature of Shasta’s testimony and laid down strict guidelines for her testimony including restricting media availability to her comments to the court.

“I don’t want to be in the same room as him. I hate him and don’t want to see his face. He killed my family and he shouldn’t be here,” Shasta was reported to have said in a motion filed by her guardian ad litem last November and unsealed last Tuesday.

The agreement was signed by Duncan, US Attorney Tom Moss and Assistant US Attorneys Wendy Olson and Tracy Whelan last Wednesday, the day after Judge Lodge laid down the regulations for Shasta’s testimony.

Duncan and prosecutors agreed to admit into evidence dashcam video taken by a Coeur d’Alene Patrol Car on July 2nd, 2005 right after Shasta was rescued, and a series of interviews between Detective Dan Mattos and Shasta at Kootenai Medical Center and the two campsites Duncan took the Groene children, including the site where Duncan murdered Dylan Groene.