Idaho Kidnap Suspect Appears in Court

The man suspected of kidnapping two children after killing three people at a home in Idaho appears in public today for the first time since his arrest.

Registered sex offender Joseph Duncan (search) is scheduled to enter a plea this afternoon on charges that he kidnapped and murdered three people in a scheme authorities say was designed so Duncan could kidnap two children for sex. He was arrested in early July as he ate a meal with eight-year-old Shasta Groene (search) at a restaurant in Coeur D'Alene (search), Idaho.

The body of Shasta's nine-year-old brother, Dylan, was found a few days later in Montana.

Prosecutors have up to 30 days after today's hearing to decide whether to seek the death penalty, but Kootenai County (search) Prosecutor Bill Douglas will announce his decision immediately after Joseph Edward Duncan III's arraignment today.

Authorities contend Duncan stalked the children's home for several days in May before going in, tying up their mother, her boyfriend and their brother, then beating them to death with a hammer.

Douglas declined to reveal his intentions, saying state law required Duncan to enter a plea before a prosecutor makes a capital punishment (search) announcement. Douglas has up to 30 days to make his decision.

Police say Shasta Groene has given them details of the crimes.

Douglas also says he believes Duncan can get a fair trial in Kootenai County, despite three months of intense publicity after the three murders and the subsequent abductions of Shasta and Dylan Groene.

He's also being investigated in the deaths of several other children.