Monday, March 06, 2006

Groenes pressured not to testify

Victims' relatives want death penalty, no deals, for Duncan

COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho (AP) - Family members of victims say they don't want the state to make a deal with Joseph Duncan III that would let him avoid the death penalty, even though a trial could be difficult for lone survivor Shasta Groene.

Duncan's public defender, John Adams, said last week a plea agreement would be easier on Shasta because she wouldn't have to testify at trial, but could only be made if the state didn't seek the death penalty against Duncan.

Duncan, 42, of Fargo, N.D., has pleaded not guilty to three counts of first-degree murder and three counts of first-degree kidnapping in the slayings of three people in their Coeur d'Alene-area home in May 2005. Killed were Brenda Kay Groene, 40; her son, Slade Vincent Groene, 13; and Mark Edward McKenzie, 37.

Federal prosecutors say that when the state case is resolved, federal charges will be filed in the abduction of 9-year-old Dylan Groene and 8-year-old Shasta Groene from the blood-drenched family home, and Dylan's subsequent death at a Montana campsite.

"For anybody to think we'd want to plea-bargain with him, they're totally crazy," Mark Doble, husband of Brenda Groene's younger sister, Sandra, told The Spokesman-Review of Spokane, Wash. "This guy ruined our lives. He needs to pay."

Of his niece, Shasta, he said: "She's very strong. She will be able to testify. It needs to be done."

Adams hinted last week that a plea agreement could be possible, following a hearing in which 1st District Judge Fred Gibler postponed the trial six months at Adams' request.

Shasta's court advocate, and her father, Steve Groene, accompanied by his attorney, testified in closed proceedings in the judgeâ€'s chambers. Adams called Steve Groene as a defense witness during the hearing.

Afterward, Adams said a plea agreement would be easier on Shasta.

But Kootenai County Prosecutor Bill Douglas said there will be no negotiations, and family members say they back that decision.

"We're definitely not interested in any plea bargain whatsoever," said Darlene Torres, Brenda Groene's mother. "Mr. Douglas, we're behind him all the way."

Steve Groene, father of Slade, Dylan and Shasta, has not said publicly whether he prefers a plea agreement or a trial.

The brother of Mark McKenzie, Steve McKenzie, said he understood the concern over the idea of Shasta being called to testify. But he said the death penalty should not be bargained away.

"That was my dad's son and my brother," Steve McKenzie said. "And he was tied up and beat to death with a hammer. We don't want to plea bargain with this guy."


Blogger Tracy Oetting said...

This is outragious! Why is it that the prosecutor would even consider a plea agreement for this monster? I can understand the Defense wanting a plea, but why would the Prosecutor?

The family has to come out and demand NO DEALS!?

See, to me, something is very fishy about this. They claim that if they plea out Shasta won't have to testify. Yes, this is true, but it is a moot point.

In a court of law the Consitution says that ALL defendants have a right to face their accusers, so why is it that most cases are plead out?

The only reason I can come up with is the case has been botched and they would rather get 'em on something than nothing at all.

In this case, justice is that Duncan must die for his evil if he is convicted for three cold-blooded murders in this particular case. (Another case will foillow to get justice for Dylan's abduction, torture and murder and Shasta's abduction and torture.)

If this means that a beautiful, young child who is a victim of this event has to testify to get this justice then it is justice for her to testify.

I am so glad the family came out and made their demands public. Keep it up and don't give up!

5:23 PM  
Blogger Tracy Oetting said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

5:25 PM  
Blogger Home Sweet Home said...

A group is only as strong as it's weakest link. I do feel for Shasta, and feel that most of the stress and pressure is on her. And she is not an adult, she is an injured child. No decision should be made without talking with her, her father, her doctors, and then the rest of the family. And if life w/o parole is all they can get, ok then they can try again in the other trials. But don't sacrifice the child, in order to do get the DP. Put the child first.

8:16 AM  
Blogger Dulcinea said...

Shasta will have to live with the memories of seeing her family slaughtered, her brother tortured and burned to death, and the pain of the torture Duncan put her through. The time to worry about Shasta's mental state was before these horrific crimes occurred. I applaud the family's decision to let her tell her story in court. It may be the only place where she can ever really speak not only for herself but for Dylan, Slade, her mother, and her stepfigure. The defense has every right to fear putting her on the stand, but please don't be fooled into thinking it's because Adams is thinking of her best interest. Adams simply knows that tiny little girl will get his client convicted and sentenced to death. She speaks not with one voice but with five immediate voices, and with the voices of thousands of others behind her who are silently screaming. Speak up and speak loud, Shasta. We're all praying for you.

11:52 AM  

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