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PostSubject: Child killer smiles as he gets death sentence   Wed Aug 27, 2008 6:47 pm

Child killer smiles as he gets death sentence

BOISE, Idaho (AP) -- Joseph Edward Duncan III was sentenced to death for the 2005 kidnapping, torture and murder of a northern Idaho boy after the federal jury deliberated just three hours.

The jurors' recommendation was binding on U.S. District Judge Edward Lodge, who thanked them, dismissed them and then issued the sentence Wednesday.

Duncan showed no reaction, but he did smile as the verdict was passed to the judge.

Duncan acted as his own attorney but had offered no response to prosecutors' argument that he deserves execution after the torment he inflicted on Dylan Groene. The boy's younger sister also was kidnapped and sexually abused but survived.

Duncan pleaded guilty in state court to killing the children's mother, brother and the mother's fiancÚ.

The death verdict ended a gripping and often gruesome courtroom drama.

Tapes of the Duncan torturing Dylan were shown during an earlier phase of the trial, as well as a recorded statement from his sister, who survived the abduction by Duncan. The girl watched Duncan shoot her brother.

In victim impact statements Tuesday, the boy's father and grandmother offered a personal glimpse into the life of the impish third-grader.

His grandmother Darlene Torres described a shy but affectionate young boy who loved being outside, whether he was playing in the creek near their northern Idaho home or riding a four-wheeler around their property.

His father, Steve Groene, said Dylan was protective of his younger sister, Shasta, stepping in to protect her when older siblings tried to pick on her.

"You have to cherish every minute with your children," Steve Groene said. "You can't take any of that time for granted, because you could wake up the next day, and they may not be there. I miss him. A lot."

After Steve Groene's testimony, U.S. Attorney Tom Moss told Lodge that prosecutors rested their case.

Duncan also rested his case, opting not to present any witnesses or offer any mitigating evidence for the jury to weigh against the heinousness of his crimes.

Duncan murdered 13-year-old Slade Groene; his mother, Brenda Groene; and her fiancÚ, Mark McKenzie, in their Coeur d'Alene home. He then kidnapped Dylan and his then-8-year-old sister, Shasta Groene.

Duncan took the two deep into the Montana wilderness, where he sexually abused and tortured them for weeks. He ultimately shot Dylan point-blank in the head while Shasta watched. He was arrested after returning with Shasta to Coeur d'Alene, where a waitress recognized the girl as the two ate at a Denny's restaurant.

Duncan pleaded guilty to the three Idaho murders in state court in 2006. In January 2007, the federal government charged him with 10 felonies for the trauma he inflicted on Dylan and Shasta. Duncan pleaded guilty in December to those charges.

Duncan also could face execution on state counts in the other three killings
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