Update on a spree killer

Both in Books, Crooks & Counselors and here on the blog, I’ve written about Joseph Duncan, who killed two adults and a boy in Idaho, kidnapped two younger children in the family and took them to the Montana woods where he molested both and killed the boy before being caught with the girl. Charges were filed in both states and in federal courts, and Duncan soon faced charges in other cases in other states. The case is an example of the most horrifying kind of criminal: one who seems to have moved around, abusing and killing, without being caught or stopped.

Duncan received a death sentence in federal court and waived his right to appeal. The Idaho Statesman reports that a federal judge has now ruled he was mentally competent when he did so. http://www.idahostatesman.com/2013/12/06/2912680/judge-rules-killer-was-competent.html

I’ve used the case to discuss jurisdiction, cross-jurisdictional crimes, and other issues. But the real lesson, for lawyers and fiction writers, is an ironic one: some of the most interesting legal issues arise in the most horrifying cases.