Convicted Child Killer Asks to Represent Himself at Sentencing

Convicted child killer Joseph Edward Duncan III told a federal judge Friday that he wants to represent himself at his sentencing hearing.

A jury is being chosen to decide whether Duncan should be put to death for the abduction and slaying of 9-year-old Dylan Groene in 2005.

"I don't have an issue with counsel personally," Duncan said in court. "It's ideological. I don't believe that they can ethically represent my ideologies."

Duncan did not elaborate on what those ideologies are. But authorities have examined an Internet blog that he kept for months before the slayings which documented his internal struggle against right and wrong, railed against the ostracizing of convicted sex offenders, and offered religious views.

U.S. District Judge Edward Lodge said he needed to make certain that Duncan was competent to waive his right to professional representation. He ordered attorneys on both sides to recommend area psychiatrists or psychologists who can evaluate him.

Duncan pleaded guilty in December to 10 federal crimes stemming from the 2005 kidnapping of Dylan and his then 8-year-old sister, Shasta Groene. Both were taken from their Coeur d'Alene home in May 2005 and sexually abused before Duncan shot and killed Dylan at a campsite in western Montana.

Duncan previously pleaded guilty in Idaho state court to killing the children's mother, Brenda Groene; her boyfriend, Mark McKenzie, and 13-year-old Slade Groene at the family home.

Jury selection for the federal sentencing phase began Monday, but Duncan told Lodge he wouldn't expect a switch to delay the trial.

If Duncan represents himself, it could put him in the position to cross-examine Shasta Groene, the sole survivor of the murders and abduction.

It is not yet clear if either side expects to call Shasta as a witness.