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death penalty news----COLO., UTAH, NEV., IDAHO, USA
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Rick Halperin
2017-11-04 13:54:00 UTC
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Nov. 4




COLORADO:

Walmart Shooting Suspect Scott Ostrem Could Face Death Penalty



The Denver man accused of opening fire inside of a Walmart, killing 3 people in
what police say was an act of "mass chaos," could face life in prison or even
the death penalty, a judge said Friday.

Scott Ostrem, 47, made his 1st appearance in an Adams County courthouse dressed
in a blue jumpsuit and giving one word responses to the judge.

Although prosecutors asked for more time to consider multiple counts against
Ostrem, they were ordered to file formal charges by Monday. Until then, he is
being held without bond on an initial warrant of 3 counts of 1st-degree murder.

Police in the Denver suburb of Thornton have provided no motive for why Ostrem
walked calmly inside of a Walmart on Wednesday night and allegedly fired at
random. He fled amid the panic, sparking a manhunt, and was captured the
following morning about a half-mile from his home.

The victims were identified as Carlos Moreno, 66, of Thornton, and Victor
Vasquez, 26, of Denver, both of whom died at the scene, and Pamela Marques, 52,
of Denver, who died at the hospital.

The affidavit in the case remained sealed Friday.

While police released little information about Ostrem, neighbors at the Samuel
Park Apartments described him as a loner who would walk around carrying
weapons.

"He didn't seem to have anybody," Teresa Muniz, one of his neighbors, told The
Associated Press. "Being angry all the time. That's what he seemed like, always
angry."

Muniz said most of the building's tenants talk to one another, but Ostrem never
returned her greetings and swore at people for leaving laundry in communal
machines. She also said she sometimes saw Ostrem carrying a shotgun or a bow
and set of arrows to and from the building.

Another neighbor, Gerald Burnett, 63, said he was sitting on the stairs outside
drinking coffee one morning when Ostrem came down, told him to move and cursed
at him.

"Dude had an attitude, big time," Burnett said. "He's the type of person if you
said, 'Good morning,' he wouldn't say nothing."

Another resident, Dennis Valenzuela, told NBC affiliate KUSA that he noticed
Ostrem treated tenants differently because of their race. Thornton is about 1/3
Hispanic or Latino.

"Very quiet, but verbally abusive toward Hispanics," said the 49-year-old
maintenance worker. "Just real rude, he would use vulgar language with
Hispanics and stuff like that."

Thornton police spokesman Victor Avila wouldn't say if investigators knew about
neighbors' statements or whether race played a role in the shooting, but told
NBC News that the case is "an active investigation and everything will be
looked at."

Ostrem recently had financial problems and filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in
2015. He also had minor run-ins with police dating back to the 1990s.

For the past three years, he worked in the metal fabrication shop of a roofing
company. On the morning of the shooting, he left his work station without any
explanation and never came back, boss David Heidt told the AP.

"We're all bewildered as to where we are now," Heidt said.

(source: NBC News)








UTAH:

Capital punishment system unfair to defendants and attorneys



When asked if I would be willing to represent a Utah death-sentenced inmate,
Floyd Maestas, I said absolutely not. I was well aware of the emotional,
physical and financial toll the representation would place on me and on my
practice. Yet I eventually agreed because I believe those on death row deserve
good representation.

Floyd insisted he was not there during the murder, even though at trial 2
eyewitnesses placed him there, his fingerprint was at the scene and there was
DNA under the victim's fingernails. But I took my charge seriously and worked
feverishly to find evidence of innocence.

The United States Supreme Court has consistently held that post-conviction
lawyers must diligently scour the evidence, investigate the case for innocence,
and search for any evidence that could "mitigate" or reduce a defendant's death
sentence. These efforts have resulted in the reversal of death sentences around
the nation, where innocent people have been exonerated.

Given a shoe-string budget of $30,000, our investigators discovered serious
evidence to support Floyd's innocence. This included a letter from 1 of the
eyewitnesses, saying he and his friend framed Floyd and that his friend was the
real murderer. The DNA "match" was not a match at all, but a Y-chromosome test
that would match 421 of 591 Hispanics, Floyd's race. Our fingerprint expert
also believed there were serious problems with the fingerprint identification.

We discovered a very traumatic family history. Floyd was raised in the ghetto
in a cardboard house with no running water. His father froze to death from
alcoholism and 2 of his siblings were murdered. As a boy, Floyd held his dying
sister in the living room after her boyfriend stabbed her. A few days after
Christmas, police found 13-year-old Floyd passed out on the street from extreme
intoxication.

Before his trial, all but one expert concluded Floyd was intellectually
disabled, a finding that prohibits his execution. While the judge sided with
the one expert at trial, even that expert has now indicated that under newer
diagnostic criteria, he also believes Floyd is intellectually disabled.

But we were out of money and time. I had exhausted our limited budget. My
investigators had fronted $17,000 of their own money for evidence and the court
would not reimburse them. They told me that they could no longer work on the
case. I still had not read all Floyd's file given its enormity and asked the
court for more time. The request was denied.

The court denied funding for almost all of my work, resulting in around
$100,000 of losses. My co-counsel has never been paid for hundreds of hours of
donated time. I had to put my expenses on credit cards and my wife took a 2nd
job. The stress culminated when I woke in the night feeling chest pain and
ended up in urgent care. My doctors believed the heart stress was related to
the case and asked me to withdraw. I asked the court to let me off and was
denied. In desperation, I reached out to the American Bar Association, who
located a large firm who was willing to assist on the case on a pro bono basis.

In capital cases, states provide counsel to the lowest bidder and encourage
attorneys to do little work and then get out. And courts don't fix the problems
either. They have refused to find that a defendant was deprived an effective
attorney, even if he sleeps or is drunk during trial. In my case, the state
believes my client has no right to an effective attorney at all and that he
should be grateful they even gave him someone.

The system is full of errors. Since 1976, we have executed 1,452 nationally but
exonerated 159, a shocking number for so serious a penalty. An astonishing 47
of 100 death sentences are reversed at some point. These reversals happen
because of good lawyering, but this safety net is often lacking. Nationwide,
public defenders work under enormous pressure, with massive caseloads and have
seen little sign of reprieve.

Our capital punishment system is a charade. We provide a "defense lawyer" but
either give someone with no experience or refuse to give the necessary
resources to experienced attorneys. In Utah, a state with one of the lowest
death penalty populations in the United States, which has not executed a
defendant since 2010, almost every attorney to take a death penalty case has
suffered extreme personal loss. The result is a crisis-level lack of qualified
attorneys willing or able to take on capital cases.

If we have the death penalty, we must commit to protecting the innocent from
execution. We must also commit to adequately support the attorneys who are
called upon to perform these difficult tasks.

(source: Samuel Newton has been a criminal defense attorney since 2003. He has
worked as a public defender in Salt Lake City, a professor of criminal justice
at Weber State University and as a private practitioner focusing on criminal
appeals and capital litigation----Commentary, Salt Lake tribune)








NEVADA:

How will Scott Dozier die? Experts weigh in on Nevada's experimental execution
cocktail



Imagine you're lying down, and you tell yourself to take a deep breath. But you
realize you can't.

You want to jump up, wave your arms or call for help. But even your face is
frozen. You're completely paralyzed.

You're slowly suffocating to death, and no one seems to notice.

That's how 2 medical experts described a Las Vegas inmate's possible fate if
state officials don't administer enough drugs to render him unconscious during
his voluntary execution - scheduled in less than 2 weeks at Ely State Prison.

That scenario would challenge the Eighth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution,
which prohibits the government from imposing a cruel and unusual punishment,
according to experts.

In August, the Nevada Department of Corrections announced it would use
fentanyl, diazepam and Cisatracurium in Scott Dozier's lethal injection - a
cocktail of drugs never before used in an execution.

The new cocktail has raised questions about how the drugs will be administered,
the details of which would be available in the state's execution protocol. The
state still hasn't released how it will use those drugs, including dosages.

A court hearing is scheduled for Friday in Clark County about unsealing those
details for the public.

Dozier, 45, was sentenced to death for the 2002 murder and dismemberment of
22-year-old Jeremiah Miller, whose torso was found in a suitcase inside a trash
bin at an apartment complex near the Las Vegas Strip.

Dozier has been sitting behind bars for more than a decade and voluntarily
waived his right to appeal his sentence.

The drug cocktail has sparked debate over the use of paralytic drugs in lethal
injections, a topic that's been talked about for decades since the 1st lethal
injection execution was carried out in 1982.

The Reno Gazette-Journal reached out to Dr. Joel Zivot, an associate professor
of anesthesiology and surgery at Emory University School of Medicine, and Dr.
Susi Vassallo, a professor of emergency medicine at New York University of
Medicine.

Zivot, Vassallo and Denno have all served as experts and written extensively
about lethal injection and its role in capital punishment.

Here's a look at how each of the 3 drugs work, what they're used for and how
they could affect Dozier if state officials don't administer them correctly.

Fentanyl in executions: 'It makes sense'

Fentanyl is an opiate, like heroin, but it was "cooked up in a laboratory,"
according to Vassallo.

It's a potent synthetic drug designed to take away symptoms of pain.

"It's extremely short-acting and extremely powerful," said Vassallo, who is an
emergency medical physician certified by the American College of Medical
Toxicology, which deals with drug overdoses.

"Depending on the amount you give, somebody can become unconscious and stop
breathing," she said. "That can be lethal."

The opioid crisis: Here's what you need to know about the deadly opioid.

Fentanyl is a drug that's used every day in modern medicine. It's also at the
center of the opioid overdose epidemic in the United States.

"So, you can see that fentanyl - if you're trying to kill somebody - it's a
very good drug for lethal injection," Vassallo said. "It makes sense if that's
what you're trying to do."

Fentanyl affects different opioid receptors in the body, which are responsible
for pain relief and breathing.

Opioid receptors exist not only in the nervous system, but in organs, such as
the heart, lungs, liver, gastrointestinal and reproductive tracts, according to
the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

"When you inject fentanyl into a human body, that fentanyl goes and finds that
receptor and provides pain relief and respiratory depression," Vassallo said.
"It slows breathing until it stops."

At the same time, it keeps the person unconscious and unable to feel pain.

"Nevada could easily kill a human being with fentanyl," she said. "Or they
could inject an even longer acting, enormous dose of morphine or any kind of
powerful opiate ..."

Diazepam: The sleeping drug

State officials also plan on using diazepam as part of lethal injection
cocktail. But the drug itself isn't dangerous . And it doesn't make much sense
to use it in an execution, according to both Vassallo and Zivot.

Diazepam is used for various reasons. It can be used to temporarily treat
insomnia, seizures, muscle spasms and anxiety. It can also be used as a light
muscle relaxant or as a sedative for minor surgery or non-invasive procedures,
according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

Veterinarians also use it to help alleviate anxiety in dogs and cats. But it
doesn't affect consciousness.

"Diazepam is used for anxiety," said Zivot, who's practiced anesthesiology for
25 years. "In the past, they were used as sleep promoters."

Basically, it's just a Valium, Vassallo said.

"People take valium to relax," she said.

"Valium, in general, won't kill someone. It would have to be massive doses,
very massive and given very rapidly."

Cisatracurium: The paralyzing drug

Zivot and Vassallo agreed using Cisatracurium in Dozier's execution could
violate the Eighth Amendment of the U.S Constitution, which prohibits the
government from imposing cruel and unusual punishment.

Cisatracurium is a paralytic drug, typically used on patients undergoing
surgery.

Cisatracurium affects how skeletal muscles contract and relax. Even if a
patient is deeply anesthetized, muscles can still contract during surgery.

"Paralyzing drugs are used safely every day in the country and around the world
to facilitate surgery," Zivot said. "It allows for muscle relaxation, so the
muscles don't create a barrier next to the organs beneath."

It's also helpful when placing a ventilation tube in a patient's throat.

"There is a muscle for breathing called the diaphragm, and the diaphragm is a
skeletal muscle," Zivot said. "When a person is given Cisatracurium, the
diaphragm muscle becomes paralyzed. It won't move."

But the drug won't affect consciousness, awareness, pain or anxiety, which is
why state officials plan to use fentanyl and diazepam.

"If I gave Cisatracurium to a person who was awake, they would become quickly
aware of their inability to move and ... breath," Zivot said. "Even though our
brain is sending messages to our muscles to move, the muscles themselves would
not be able to respond."

"Outwardly, we would appear calm," he said. "The expression of our face would
be relaxed.

"Inside, we would be dying. We would be suffocating, and it would be
terrifying. But you can't communicate this terror."

(source: Reno Gazette Journal)








IDAHO:

Renfro tells jury he accepts his fate, even if it means the death penalty



For the 1st time since his trial began on Sept. 11, convicted killer Jonathan
D. Renfro took the stand Friday to speak about his role in the death of Coeur
d'Alene police Sgt. Greg Moore.

He used his first words to address the slain officer's family.

"I know you all hate me with good cause," Renfro said, facing them. "I know you
probably don't believe me, but I am sorry."

Renfro then turned to the jury - the same jury that convicted him of 1st-degree
murder in the May 5, 2015, ambushing and killing - and told them he accepted
whatever fate they chose.

"I've taken the life of a man who was much greater than I am. I can never fix
that. Not only have I destroyed that family, I've destroyed my own family," he
said.

"If you decide the death penalty will give back to the community and the Moore
family," he continued, "I accept that decision and will support it."

After deliberation, the jury may now elect that Renfro face the death penalty.
If it doesn't unanimously agree to that sentence, Renfro will spend the rest of
his life in prison without the possibility of parole.

The jury had not reached a verdict by the end of the day Friday.

During the day's proceedings, however, Deputy Kootenai County Prosecutor David
Robins gave the jury a long list of reasons why the state believes Renfro
should receive the death penalty.

"Greg was a good man who deserved many more years with his wife. He was a good
man who deserved to raise his children," Robins said. "He was a good man whose
life was ended by a man who didn't want to go back to prison.

"In terms of the family, no words I can say can do justice to the pain they
feel every day," he continued. "The death penalty will not bring Greg back, but
it will provide justice to a family that will suffer for the rest of their
lives."

Defense attorney Keith Roark did not try to convince the jury that his client
had not committed the killing. Instead, he asked that they simply let Renfro
die in prison.

"I am asking you to take from this man all of the things that make his life
worth living. Put him in a place where he will never again be able to look at a
sunrise over Lake Coeur d'Alene or smell the pine trees after a spring rain ???
to never know what it is to walk down the street holding the hand of someone
you love.

"This can all be over," Roark said. "Nothing you do is going to put back in the
heart of Dylon Moore what a father's love means. But there is no need to kill
this man."

Renfro's statements followed a day of painful testimony, as Moore's family
described how the officer's death had ripped through their lives.

"I miss his touch, his warmth and his presence," Moore's widow, Lindy Moore,
said through tears. "I miss being his wife. I miss the way he loved me. I miss
him and I will never be the same.

"My husband was murdered in one moment," she continued. "Our future is gone."

Friday also included the continued testimony of forensic psychiatrist Dr.
Michael Welner, who testified that he believed Renfro suffers from antisocial
anxiety disorder and not from a traumatic brain injury as experts from the
defense had claimed.

Welner, who charged the state $210,000 for his research and $6,000 a day to
testify, said Renfro had been doing well before making a decision to pursue
criminal activity.

"If he wasn't armed, he would not have shot Sgt. Moore," Welner said. "He chose
to arm himself. This was a byproduct of his won choices, of doing what he
wanted to do and being where he wanted to be."

First District Judge Lansing Haynes then allowed Moore's mother, father and
14-year-old son to testify.

The stories painted a compelling picture of a bear of a man who always found
time for his family, who daily wrestled his son and became a lifelong friend to
anyone who got to know him.

Dylon told the jury he knew his father as "Batman" because "he worked in the
night, and he had a belt with a lot of gadgets. He was filled with a love for
me that will never be duplicated."

The teenager testified about the night his father was shot and the ongoing
regret of not being able say goodbye to his dying father, who he was told was
unrecognizable because of the shot to his face.

"I didn't know I would never give him another hug or see him at the softball
game again," he said as he cried. "He made me feel like I had a place at the
top of his heart. I love my dad, and will miss him for the rest of my life."

Fred Moore, himself a lifelong police officer, spoke in broken sentences about
the son who followed his footsteps into law enforcement.

Greg Moore "told me many times that he loved his job because he liked to help
others," Fred Moore said. "I was always told that the loss of a child is the
worst thing a human can suffer. I can tell you ... it's unbearable and it just
never goes away."

(source: spokesman.com)








USA:

Trump's complicated past with the death penalty and due process



The day after Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl was charged with desertion in 2015 after being
held captive in Afghanistan for nearly 5 years, Donald Trump tweeted that the
former Taliban prisoner should "face the death penalty" for abandoning his post
and endangering his unit.

On Friday, a military judge gave Bergdahl no prison time, a move that
now-President Trump criticized on Twitter as "a complete and total disgrace to
our Country and to our Military."

Earlier this week, as the clock approached midnight, the President tweeted that
the suspect who killed 8 by driving a truck down a Manhattan bike path "SHOULD
GET DEATH PENALTY!" -- the 1st time he tweeted a call for capital punishment as
sitting President.

Legal experts said the President's comment, followed by a subsequent tweet
repeating his call the next day, could entangle prosecutors as they seek to
seat an unbiased jury and deliberate over what punishment to seek.

For the last 1/2 decade of public life and beyond, Trump has consistently
called for capital punishment against some of America's most high-profile
criminals. But he's done so with limited concern for due process -- in both the
justice system and the method of execution itself -- which courts have shaped
and ethicists have debated in the US for decades.

Trump has called for the death penalty more than a dozen times in the last 5
years, including:

On Drew Peterson, who gained national headlines after the disappearance of his
fourth wife, Stacy, Trump tweeted to "change the law" and "bring back the death
penalty!"

Trump called for the "DEATH PENALTY!" in a tweet against the "deranged animals"
who killed two police officers in Mississippi in 2015.

He also tweeted that Jared Lee Loughner, who shot former Rep. Gabrielle
Giffords and killed a half dozen others in 2011, "should be given the death
penalty, not his plea bargained life in prison -- which will cost the taxpayers
many millions of dollars."

But it's not just the use of capital punishment that Trump has pushed for. He's
also called for expediting the judicial process and hinted at skirting the
justice system's due process and implementing more brutal methods of execution.

In 1 tweet against the Aurora, Colorado, shooter James Holmes, who shot 82
people in a movie theater, Trump called for a "fast trial" and for lawmakers to
"immediately pass speed up legbostoislation."

On a gunman who shot and killed a former coworker at the Empire State Building
in 2012, Trump recommended "fast trials and death penalty."

In the case of Boston Marathon bomber, Trump tweeted for a "quick trial, then
death penalty."

After a string of missing children in October 2012, Trump called for "fast
trial" and "death penalty" on Twitter.

But he's also entertained more gruesome methods of execution. He also called
for a "very fast trial and then the death penalty" against "the animal" who
beheaded a woman in Oklahoma in September 2014, then tweeting "the same fate -
beheading?"

And in a February 2016 speech on the campaign trail, Trump mocked people who
consider the death penalty unconstitutional and develop humane methods of
execution while talking about the fight against ISIS and the immigration
system.

"It's like these guys that commit murder, right? They commit murder. They kill
someone. ... They go to jail. 'We don't want the death penalty. It's cruel and
unusual punishment,'" he said. "And then you have another case when they get
the death penalty, want to give them drugs to put them to sleep quietly and
this. Look, we're in a fight for our lives."

Capital punishment is legal in 31 states and the federal government, according
to the National Conference for State Legislatures.

On the campaign trail ahead of the Iowa caucuses, Trump proposed an executive
order requiring mandatory capital punishment for killing a police officer.
Legal experts highlighted multiple constitutional concerns with the proposal at
the time.

Trump's support for the death penalty stretches back decades, when he ran
multiple full-page ads in New York City newspapers in 1989 following the rape
and assault of a Central Park jogger.

In the full-page ads, Trump said that "our society will rot away" until capital
punishment is used more commonly. "I no longer want to understand their anger.
I want them to understand our anger. I want them to be afraid," he wrote. "They
should be forced to suffer and, when they kill, they should be executed for
their crimes.''

Trump interviewed with Playboy on the topic the next year. "When a man or woman
cold-bloodedly murders, he or she should pay. It sets an example. Nobody can
make the argument that the death penalty isn't a deterrent. Either it will be
brought back swiftly or our society will rot away. It is rotting away," he
said.

Trump's desire to expedite the justice system hasn't stopped at capital
punishment. When asked on "Fox and Friends" in April 2013, he said he supported
nixing the US Supreme Court's requirement that suspects be read their rights to
remain silence and obtain a lawyer at apprehension -- dubbed Miranda rights.

"I don't think so at all," Trump said in 2013 when asked whether he thought
police ought to maintain the Miranda requirement.

"What I don't like seeing is a lot of people are saying we did something
wrong," he said, lamenting questions at the time over whether a Boston Marathon
bombing suspect was read his Miranda rights properly. "Here we go again, I mean
I see it all the time. We did something wrong. We didn't read their rights.
They weren't told of their rights."

"You know we have to get back to business in this country. This is
disgraceful," he said.

(source: CNN)

*****************

Child-killer Joseph Duncan still fighting death sentence



Although child-killer Joseph Duncan waived his right to appeal his triple death
sentence for the 2005 kidnapping, torture and murder of a 9-year-old North
Idaho boy, Duncan, through a team of attorneys, is now pressing a series of
continued challenges.

That's in part because more than two years after Duncan waived his appeals, he
changed his mind. Courts said it was too late for his direct appeal, but he's
now in the midst of the next stage, his habeas filings, in which his attorneys
can challenge aspects of his conviction and sentencing on constitutional
grounds. These challenges start in the U.S. District Court but can be then
appealed again to the 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals and the U.S. Supreme
Court.

Duncan's case already has been to the U.S. Supreme Court twice; the high court
refused to review it each time.

Last week, federal prosecutors in Idaho filed their legal arguments responding
to Duncan's 231-page "motion for collateral relief," which his attorneys filed
last winter.

"None of Duncan's contentions have merit," prosecutors wrote in their
conclusion, after going through, in detail, Duncan's arguments on various legal
and procedural grounds.

Duncan's attorneys are raising arguments ranging from questioning the
constitutionality of the death penalty to suggestions that Spokane attorney
Roger Peven's early withdrawal from Duncan's case due to unrelated personal
problems sabotaged Duncan???s case - even though the confessed murderer and
child rapist pleaded guilty to all the charges, including multiple murder
charges.

"Duncan attempts to lay the blame for every asserted error at the feet of Roger
Peven," federal prosecutors wrote. "After Peven revealed personal and substance
abuse issues that had affected his ability to represent Duncan, the court
permitted him to withdraw as lead counsel. But Duncan never wanted for
attorneys, and enjoyed the services of the nation's most celebrated
capital-defense lawyer, Judy Clarke, as an advisor to his team of lawyers and
eventually, in Peven's stead, as lead counsel."

Duncan's appellate attorneys, led by Assistant Federal Defender Lindsay Bennett
in Sacramento, are offering an array of other grounds as well for overturning
his death sentence.

They're suggesting a possible "miscarriage of justice" because Duncan's history
of being abused as a child wasn't detailed to jurors. Duncan himself refused to
allow that evidence to be presented, saying he didn't want his past experiences
presented as an "excuse for his behavior" and that childhood abuse he suffered
was "irrelevant."

He acted as his own lawyer during his federal sentencing trial and refused to
present any of that evidence. But much of it came out anyway, when the 9th
Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ordered U.S. District Judge Edward Lodge to hold
a "retroactive competency hearing" to determine, in open court, whether Duncan
was mentally competent. He had lawyers at that 6-week 2013 hearing, and after
Lodge again found him competent, they appealed unsuccessfully both to the 9th
Circuit and the U.S. Supreme Court.

Duncan's lawyers also are suggesting Duncan wasn't mentally competent to plead
guilty in 2007, though at the time he was represented by a team of attorneys
and consulted with them on the decision. They're alleging he had ineffective
assistance of counsel in that decision, violating his constitutional rights.

Federal prosecutors counter that the lawyers didn't seem to question Duncan's
competency until he fired them and took over his case himself.

Duncan's lawyers say his legal team was pressed for time to prepare for his
trial because Peven's departure, and his lack of early preparation work, had
left them far behind schedule, and U.S. District Judge Edward Lodge wouldn't
grant their requests for more delays in the case.

When they advised Duncan to plead guilty to the crimes and move on to the
sentencing phase of the trial - something he'd been indicating all along he
wanted to do - "this was triage, pure and simple," Clarke wrote in court
documents, "motivated exclusively by our need for more time to prepare."

There are other claims Duncan is raising, including that a 2015 Supreme Court
case changed the interpretation of one of the three charges under which he
received the death penalty; and that video evidence shown in court of Duncan
torturing his young victim, Dylan Groene, was prejudicial and shouldn't have
been shown.

Prosecutors responded that the graphic videos showed exactly what jurors needed
to see "in order to decide if a defendant should receive the greatest
punishment," including the presence of aggravating factors such as committing
the offense in a "heinous, cruel or depraved manner" and with a "vulnerable
victim." "Such evidence can be expected to be horrific," the U.S. attorney's
office wrote. "They showed precisely what Duncan did."

Now that the government has responded, Duncan's lawyers have until Jan. 30 to
file a reply. Then, Lodge could hold a hearing, or rule on the arguments as
submitted. After his decision, further appeals could follow.

It's part of a lengthy series of steps, guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution,
that must occur before a criminal defendant can be executed. Just 3 federal
executions have been carried out since the federal death penalty was reinstated
in 1988; the last one was in 2003.

"It is a long, long road," said Assistant U.S. Attorney Syrena Hargrove, who
worked on the latest filing for the Idaho U.S. attorney's office.

In addition to the 3 death sentences for the kidnapping, torture and murder of
Dylan, Duncan received 9 life sentences for his 2005 attack on Dylan's family
at their Wolf Lodge Bay home. Duncan killed Dylan's mother, older brother and
mother's fiance before kidnapping the family's 2 youngest children. Only
Dylan's then-8-year-old sister, Shasta, survived the ordeal.

Duncan remains on federal death row in Terre Haute, Indiana. Aged 42 at the
time of the crimes, he is now 54.

(source: spokesman.com)
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