Judge denies serial killer Joseph Duncan’s request to set aside death sentence
BOISE, Idaho — A federal judge in Idaho has denied a motion brought forth by convicted child serial killer Joseph Duncan to set aside the death sentence he received for crimes committed in Idaho.
Duncan killed three members of a Coeur d’Alene family in a home at Wolf Lodge in 2005. He then kidnapped two children, Dylan and Shasta Groene, and ultimately murdered Dylan before returning Shasta to Coeur d’Alene two months later.
After his arrest, he admitted killing at least one other child, solving a previously cold case from California. He’s a suspect in the murder of two Seattle-area girls as well.
Duncan was sentenced to death for the kidnapping and for Dylan’s murder in federal court. While he awaits execution in Indiana, his attorneys have fought for his death sentence to be vacated.
Earlier this summer, the court denied most of the claims in that appeal. It was waiting on rulings in other cases on one outstanding part of the appeal. That was resolved and in late November, Judge Edward Lodge in Boise denied the rest of the appeal to vacate or set aside the sentence.
Duncan’s attorneys were challenging the constitutionality of one of the counts, which charged Duncan with the crime of Using a Firearm During and In Relation to a Crime of Violence Resulting in Death. Attorneys argued some of the specific language in that charge, saying it was unconstitutionally vague. That’s because, under federal law, kidnapping is not considered a crime of violence. Federal prosecutors, however, argued that because Duncan killed Dylan, the kidnapping qualifies as a capital crime.
The judge agreed with federal prosecutors that Duncan’s own admission of what he did to Dylan Groene was enough to confirm that he committed first degree murder, therefor the kidnapping was a crime of violence.
He can not appeal this ruling.
Duncan is currently one of 62 inmates on federal death row. No date has been set for his execution.
There have been no federal executions since 2003. Last year, the Department of Justice announced it would resume executions, but the process is still hung up in legal proceedings.
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