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Press Release

U.S. District Court Finds Joseph Edward Duncan, III Competent

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Idaho

Judge Lodge Reinstates Previous Order

BOISE — Convicted child murderer Joseph Edward Duncan, III, was found competent to waive his appeal in November 2008 after a federal jury sentenced him to death in August 2008 for the kidnapping and murder of a nine-year-old north Idaho boy. United States District Court Judge Edward J. Lodge issued his 66-page order finding Duncan competent today. The order followed a six week retrospective competency hearing conducted by Judge Lodge in January and February of this year.

In July of 2011, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals remanded this case to the district court for a hearing to determine whether defendant Joseph Edward Duncan, III, competently waived his right to appeal in November 2008. That decision followed a filing in the Ninth Circuit by Duncan’s then-defense counsel. The defendant, who was representing himself at the time, indicated in both a letter to this Court and in a November 24, 2008, hearing that he did not wish to appeal. On August 27, 2008, a federal capital sentencing jury had returned three death sentence verdicts for the defendant’s intentional murder of the nine-year-old boy, D.G. Judge Lodge, as required by law, imposed those sentences. On November 13, 2008, Judge Lodge also imposed other, non-capital sentences for federal crimes committed from April through July of 2005, including sexual assault of a then-eight-year-old north Idaho girl.

“The United States is pleased with this careful, considered decision,” said U.S. Attorney Wendy J. Olson. “As we argued to the Court at the hearing, this defendant demonstrated his competency from the time he meticulous planned his crimes in North Dakota, to the time he carried them out in Idaho and Montana, through his participation in the capital sentencing hearing and in post-hearing interviews with FBI agents. We will continue to defend Judge Lodge’s deliberate and thorough consideration of the defendant’s competency just as we will continue to seek justice for the victims in this case through any additional appellate proceedings. The kidnapping, sexual assault and murder of this nine-year-old boy and the kidnapping and sexual assault of his sister were heinous crimes and a tragic chapter for all Idahoans, but for the sake of the surviving victim and her family, we need to bring it to a close.”

Updated December 15, 2014