BOISE, Idaho - The federal death penalty hearing for Joseph Edward Duncan III will be delayed again while Duncan undergoes additional mental evaluations, a judge has decided.
U.S. District Judge Edward Lodge ordered the additional evaluation on Tuesday to help him decide if Duncan is competent to represent himself in the sentencing phase of the capital case.
A jury will be asked to decide if Duncan should be imprisoned for life or executed for the kidnapping, abuse and slaying of young Dylan Groene in 2005. Duncan has already pleaded guilty to 10 federal charges for the crimes against Dylan and the kidnapping and abuse of his sister, Shasta Groene.
Duncan earlier pleaded guilty in state court to murdering three other members of the children's family but the penalty for those crimes is not at issue here.
Jury selection was put on hold April 22 after Duncan asked the judge to allow him to represent himself because he believed his attorneys couldn't ethically represent "his ideology." At the time, Lodge indicated that he believed Duncan was probably competent to make the decision, but said because capital punishment was at stake a mental evaluation would be prudent.
A local psychiatrist completed his evaluation of Duncan earlier this month, but Lodge apparently decided that a second evaluation was necessary. Most of the recent filings in the case have been kept under seal by Lodge, and the attorneys are under a gag order. Lodge did not indicate why he believed the additional mental evaluation was needed, how long it was expected to take, or when jury selection would resume.
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