DA Asks For More Time In Duncan Settlement - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

DA Asks For More Time In Duncan Settlement

PRESS ENTERPRISE:  Riverside County prosecutors told a judge today the district attorney needs more time to consider a settlement in the 1997 killing of Anthony Martinez.

Attorneys for Joseph Edward Duncan III have offered to settle the case, potentially entering a guilty plea in exchange for life sentence to avoid facing the death penalty and taking the case to trial. Duncan is already sentenced to death in another case.

The settlement offer came originally came when newly elected District Attorney Paul Zellerbach took office in January and began a process to review each of the county's approximately 40 death penalty cases to see if capital punishment is appropriate or if a settlement is possible.

Duncan, 47, is charged with murder and torture in abducting the 10-year-old Beaumont boy from an alley near his home.

He has already been given multiple life sentences and ordered to federal execution for murders in Idaho.

Anthony disappeared April, 4, 1997 when a man approached him asking to find his lost cat, and abducted him at knifepoint as he was playing outside with his brother.

The abduction galvanized the San Gorgonio Pass community and launched a countywide manhunt for Anthony and his captor. Anthony's body was found 15 days later, bound in duct tape, in the desert north of Indio near Joshua Tree National Park. He had been sexually molested and beaten to death with a rock.

For the next eight years the case left an open wound for Riverside County and the community of Beaumont.

A break in the case came unexpectedly in 2005 when a partial finger print found on the duct tape matched Duncan's thumb print when he was arrested in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho for the rampage killing of four members of a family and abduction of two children. He later confessed to Anthony's killing to FBI agents.

Idaho prosecutors and the U.S. Attorney's office prosecuted Duncan for the murders and abduction of the Groene family in Idaho. Duncan pleaded guilty and was given three death sentences and nine life terms.

In 2008, then-Riverside County District Attorney Rod Pacheco charged Duncan with murder in Anthony's death. He was extradited from federal prison in Terre Haute, Ind. in January 2009 to face trial, facing the death penalty.

Duncan's tenure in an Indio courtroom has been tumultuous. The trial has been delayed for more than a year.

Upon his arrival, Duncan immediately requested to represent himself. Though he never denied the charges that he killed Anthony, the court entered a not guilty plea on his behalf when he refused to identify himself or enter a plea.

A judge appointed two defense attorneys who argued that Duncan was incompetent to stand trial, let alone act as his own attorney.

The defense requested a jury trial on Duncan's competency. Attorneys presented several experts who testified Duncan was delusional and psychotic, but also said he understood his actions and the charges against him.

Jurors found Duncan competent to stand trial and a judge allowed him to act as his own attorney.

A year later, he requested an attorney. New capital defenders were appointed.

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