Court culls mountains, burn areas from jury pool in Old Fire case

SAN BERNARDINO – A Superior Court judge has ruled that residents from the local mountains and northern portions of San Bernardino and Highland will not be among potential jurors in the upcoming trial for suspected Old Fire arsonist Rickie Lee Fowler.

In discussions Friday in San Bernardino Superior Court over a defense motion to exclude jurors from those areas, Judge Michael A. Smith acknowledged that residents in those areas may be “particularly more sensitive” to fire issues.

Lawyers grappled with the idea during court appearance for Fowler where discussions occurred about how best to exclude residents from the pool of potential jurors who may been evacuated, impacted or even lost a home during the devastating wildfire.
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Mental competency trial starts for defendant in slayings of High Desert couple

VICTORVILLE – A jury will begin hearing evidence Wednesday in the mental competency trial for a West Covina man accused of the execution-style killings of a young man and woman in 2008 at an abandoned military bunker near Helendale.

Lawyers in the trial for Collin McGlaughlin spent Monday arguing pretrial motions, deciding whether some evidence could be used at trial and selecting a jury. Opening statements are scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. followed by testimony Wednesday in Victorville Superior Court.

The issue before jurors is whether McGlaughlin has the necessary mental competency to go to trial again later where he will face murder charges – and the possible death penalty – in the shooting deaths of Christopher Cody Thompson, 18, of Apple Valley and his 16-year-old girlfriend, Bodhisattva “Bodhi” Sherzer-Potter of Helendale.
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Trio face capital charges in RC man’s death

SAN BERNARDINO – Two of the three people accused of killing a mentally challenged Rancho Cucamonga man in July will need new attorneys because they could face the possible death penalty or life in state prison.

The trio – Antonio Marquis Eubanks, his half-brother John Fitzgerald Dozier and Crystal Ann Carmelo, Dozier’s wife – appeared before Judge Kenneth Barr Thursday in San Bernardino Superior Court where the new lawyers were discussed.

Prosecutors allege the three defendants killed Matthew Thomas Cook, 29, in July at a San Bernardino apartment building for financial gain. Cook was beaten to death and left in a trash can, say San Bernardino police.
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Man suspected in Beaumont child’s death appeals federal conviction

By Stacia Glenn on November 18, 2008 2:47 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) |

(AP) — A man who was convicted of murdering four people and sentenced to death for one of the murders has filed a notice of appeal in federal court.

Joseph Edward Duncan III was given three death sentences and three life imprisonment sentences in federal court earlier this year for the 205 kidnapping, sexual abuse and torture of 9-year-old Dylan Groene and 8-year-old Shasta Groene, and for Dylan’s murder.

He was also given three life imprisonment sentences in state court for the murder of their older brother, Slade Groene, their mother, Brenda Groene, and her fiance, Mark McKenzie.
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Update: Hearing postponed for man to back out of plea bargain in three deaths

A hearing for a man who avoided the death penalty with a plea bargain in three homicides — and who now wants to back out of his guilty pleas — was postponed to Nov. 7 during court proceedings Friday.

Lawyer Sean O’Connor, who represents Christopher Richard Lanteigne, requested the continuance after running into delays securing potential witnesses at West Valley Detention Center, in Rancho Cucamonga, O’Connor said during proceedings in San Bernardino Superior Court.

O’Connor said he plans to subpoena witnesses at the jail for the hearing.

“That is the cause for the delay,” O’Connor told Judge Brian McCarville.

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Capital case pursued against Chiprez in San Bernardino gang slayings

Prosecutors filed special circumstances Thursday against Froylan Chiprez, the last remaining defendant in the so-called “Dead Presidents” quadruple gang slayings.

The special circumstances allegation makes the case against Chiprez eligible for the death penalty or life in state prison without the possibility of parole in San Bernardino Superior Court.

San Bernardino Police have said in the past that Chiprez was a fugitive, and that still remains the case today.

Defendants Luis Mendoza and Lorenzo Arias attend a crime scene visit for jurors during their trial in June 2008.

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Jury says Beaumont suspect eligible for death in Idaho

Here’s the latest news from the Associated Press about the federal trial in Idaho for convicted pedophile Joseph Edward Duncan III. Riverside County prosecutors are awaiting their chance to prosecute Duncan in the 1997 abduction and slaying of 10-year-old Anthony Martinez, who was snatched from his Beaumont home.

Aug. 22, 2008
Jury: Confessed killer of Idaho boy can get death

Associated Press Writer
BOISE, Idaho (AP)– A man who kidnapped, raped, tortured and murdered a 9-year-old Idaho boy was deemed eligible for the death penalty by a jury on Friday, soon after the killer himself came close to thanking prosecutors for showing the panel sickening videos of him abusing the child.
The jury deliberated for two hours before issuing its unanimous ruling. When the hearing resumes next week, jurors must decide whether Joseph Edward Duncan III should be put to death for killing Dylan Groene in 2005.
Friday’s verdict was not surprising after Duncan’s closing argument, in which he told the jurors they didn’t yet “have a clue” about the depths of his “heinousness.”
Duncan, 45, didn’t react to the verdict. The slain boy’s father, Steven Groene, and other family supporters embraced after the verdict but seemed to keep their emotions in check.
Duncan, acting as his own attorney, will have the chance next week to convince jurors to give him life in prison without the possibility of parole instead of a death sentence. The jury’s sentencing recommendation is binding on U.S. District Judge Edward Lodge.
Duncan pleaded guilty to 10 federal felonies for the trauma he inflicted on Dylan Groene and his then-8-year-old sister, Shasta, in May 2005 after murdering their older brother, their mother and her fiance in the Coeur d’Alene area.
Duncan pleaded guilty to those three murders in state court, where he also could be sentenced to death. He kidnapped the two young children and took them deep into the Lolo National Forest, where he sexually abused and tortured them for weeks.
He ultimately shot the boy point-blank in the head while his sister watched. He was arrested after returning with Shasta to Coeur d’Alene, where a waitress recognized the girl as the two ate at a Denny’s restaurant.
Jurors cringed and cried when they viewed videos Duncan made in which he molested, tortured and hanged Dylan Groene until the boy was unconscious and nearly dead.
Duncan told the panel that government lawyers helped him victimize the jurors by making them watch and listen to the evidence.
“I should actually thank the government for helping me get my eye for an eye by showing you the evidence that you’ve seen, the videos,” Duncan said during his closing argument Friday.
Duncan, a convicted pedophile originally from Tacoma, Wash., told jurors that by presenting the evidence, the government was “helping me to take away your heart and your innocence.”
“That’s what they have done, and I should thank them but I won’t,” he said.
Steven Groene declined to discuss the case much, saying a gag order remained in effect, but said he was pleased with the ruling.
Groene said he would lobby for stronger victims’ rights in the future. He objected to spectators at the hearing being permitted to view the videos of his son being abused, and said the spectators should have been screened to make sure they weren’t sex offenders looking to take pleasure from the highly publicized case.
“My murdered, molested son should have had the same rights as a living victim,” Groene said. “I’ve had too much focus on keeping my family together and protecting my daughter, fighting cancer for the last few years but now that this appears to be close to over, I’m going to work on changing that.”
Duncan said he wasn’t in court because he was caught, but because Shasta Groene — the sole survivor of the kidnapping and attack — didn’t judge him for his actions, prompting him to take her home.
It’s not yet clear if Shasta will testify — and face the prospect of being cross-examined by her attacker — in the next phase of the trial. She did not testify in the phase just completed.
The court has ruled that if the girl does testify, it will be by closed-circuit camera and that the courtroom will be closed to the public, with a transcript of her testimony given to reporters afterward.
Duncan, originally from Tacoma, Wash., was a convicted pedophile before the killings. The rampage was the culmination of years of planning, he said, and he originally intended to rape and kill until he was killed.
Duncan has a long string of arrests and convictions for crimes ranging from car theft to rape and molestation. He is suspected in the slayings of two half-sisters from Seattle in 1996 and is charged with killing 10-year-old Anthony Martinez, of Beaumont, in Riverside County in 1997.
The Associated Press generally does not identify victims of sexual assault. In Shasta and Dylan Groene’s cases, however, the search for the children was so heavily publicized that their names are widely known.