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Tuesday
Jan082013

Duncan hearing starts in Boise 

(BOISE)- A hearing is underway in an Idaho courtroom, where a judge will decide whether convicted killer Joseph Duncan was mentally competent when he decided not to appeal his death sentence for killing a little boy 7-years ago. 

Duncan was found guilty of kidnapping Dylan Groene and his sister in 2005 after murdering  three other members of the family in Northern Idaho. He killed Dylan after holding the children for several weeks at a campground near St. Regis, being arrested after he was spotted in Coeur d'Alene with the girl. 

Four years ago, Duncan admitted his guilt to the kidnapping and murder charges and was given the death penalty. But while he was acting as his own attorney, Duncan decided to waive his right to all further appeals. But defense attorneys convinced the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals there should be a separate hearing to determine whether he was mental fit to make that decision.

That hearing started today in U.S. District Court in Boise, where Judge Edward J. Lodge will hear testimony and arguments as to Duncan's behavior and state of mind. 

Federal prosecutors are expected to argue that Duncan has already been found to be competent in several other examinations connected to the Idaho murders, plus a 1997 murder case in California. 

The hearing could last up to 6-weeks.

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