updated 9:19 p.m. EDT, Thu August 21, 2008
Cringing jurors watch Duncan torture boy on tape
BOISE, Idaho (AP) -- Jurors cringed, cried and some desperately looked away as they were shown a series of deeply disturbing and graphic videos taken by a convicted child killer as he tortured, sexually abused and nearly killed a 9-year-old boy. Joseph Edward Duncan III, acting as his own attorney, had argued against playing the videos, saying it would turn jurors "into my victims" as they decide whether he should be executed.
Duncan kidnapped the boy, Dylan Groene, and his sister, Shasta, in May 2005 after murdering their older brother, their mother and her fiance in the Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, area. The two young children were taken deep into the Lolo National Forest, where they endured weeks of horrendous abuse at Duncan's hands.
Duncan ultimately shot the boy point-blank in the head while his sister, then 8, watched. He was arrested after returning to Coeur d'Alene, where a waitress recognized Shasta as the two ate at a Denny's restaurant. The videos and photos taken at the cabin show Duncan forcing the boy to perform a sex act, whipping him with a belt and hanging him with a wire noose until the boy passed out.
"The devil is here, boy, the devil himself. The demon couldn't do what the devil sent him to do so the devil came himself," Duncan yells in one video. "The devil likes to watch children suffer and cry." Duncan covered his face as parts of the video were shown, and jurors frequently shot him looks. Two of Duncan's standby attorneys also avoided looking at the screen.
Has there ever been a better candidate for the death penalty?