AP: Experts Being Lined Up For January Competency Hearing for Joseph Duncan


The name and face of Joseph Duncan, convicted of a 2005 kidnapping, sexual abuse and torture of a 9-year-old Idaho boy and his 8-year-old sister, along with the boy's murder, will surface again in an Idaho courtroom come January.

The Associated Press' Rebecca Boone reports that a hearing is scheduled to consider the competency of the child-killer. Duncan's attorneys argue that their client wasn't mentally competent during his trial and successfully had Ducan's three death penalty sentences overturned. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in July 2011 that Duncan should have been given a competency hearing before he was allowed to waive his appeal.

In preparation for the January competency hearing, U.S. District Court Edward Lodge has approved the defense's request to use an expert in the diagnosis of mental disorders. The AP reports that Duncan's defense is expected to call Dr. Michael First, an expert in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, a text medical professionals regularly use to diagnose mental illness.

But the AP's Boone reports that federal prosecutors are hoping to call another expert, Dr. Ronald Roesch, the director of the Mental Health, Law and Policy Institute at Simon Fraser University, who examined Duncan earlier this year.

Duncan's competency hearing will focus only on the crimes he committed against the Idaho children, though Duncan has now been convicted of five different murders in three states.