Federal Court Rejects Duncan’s Death Sentence Appeal
On Friday a federal appellate court dismissed the appeal of Joseph Edward Duncan III who was sentenced to death for kidnapping, torturing and killing 9 year old Dylan Groene after killing several members of his family.
Duncan who is on death row at the U.S. Penitentiary in Terre Haute, Indiana faces the death penalty for the crime, along with several life sentences for the murder of three of Dylan's family members and the kidnapping of his then-8-year-old sister.
In 2008, during his trial, Duncan fired his public defenders, represented himself in his sentencing hearing and then waived his right to appeal. Duncan later changed his mind, and his defense attorneys claimed he wasn't mentally competent enough to waive his rights.
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected that claim, saying the lower court rightly determined that Duncan was competent and that it's too late now for him to change his mind. The three-judge appellate court panel found that U.S. District Judge Edward Lodge used the correct legal standard when he determined that Duncan didn't have a mental disease or defect that prevented him from understanding his legal options or making a rational decision.