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Originally published Wednesday, August 27, 2008 at 12:00 AM

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Duncan gets death penalty for murder of Idaho boy

Joseph Edward Duncan III has been sentenced to death for the 2005 kidnapping, torture and murder of a northern Idaho boy.

The Associated Press

BOISE, Idaho — Joseph Edward Duncan III was sentenced to death today for the 2005 kidnapping, torture and murder of a northern Idaho boy.

A federal jury deliberated just three hours before reaching the unanimous verdict; Duncan presented no argument or evidence in his own defense. The jurors' recommendation was binding on U.S. District Judge Edward Lodge, who thanked them, dismissed them and then issued the sentence.

Duncan came to Idaho from North Dakota more than three years ago, stalking a Coeur d'Alene family whose two young children he hoped to abduct and sexually abuse. He killed three people at the family's home with a hammer — 13-year-old Slade Groene; his mother, Brenda Groene; and her fiance, Mark McKenzie — then kidnapped 9-year-old Dylan and 8-year-old Shasta Groene.

He killed Dylan with a shotgun in May 2005, burning his body at a remote campsite in western Montana.

"I am so glad this is over. Justice has been served," said Darlene Torres, Brenda Groene's mother. "It's been very painful."

She said that when she saw Duncan in court, "I seen nothing but an evil, empty, coldhearted shell."

Duncan pleaded guilty to the killings at the house in state court in 2006, and he faced the death penalty on three of 10 federal charges related to the kidnapping and murder of Dylan Groene. He pleaded guilty to all 10 counts in December, and last week the jury decided that Duncan was eligible for the death penalty.

Groene's relatives remained somber as the jury's decision was announced. Duncan showed no reaction, but he did smile as the verdict was passed to the judge.

Duncan may now be brought to Riverside County, Calif., to face a murder charge there for the 1997 slaying of 10-year-old Anthony Martinez.

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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