Crime & Justice

Notorious child killer could take plea deal in Riverside County murder case

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A convicted child killer who faces the death penalty in Idaho soon could plead guilty to murder charges in Riverside County. Prosecutors have charged Joseph Duncan with killing a 10-year-old boy in Riverside County nearly 15 years ago.

Duncan was convicted of killing two other boys, their mother and her fiancé in Idaho six years ago. He faces multiple death sentences there.

In Riverside County, he’s charged with the murder of 10-year-old Anthony Martinez. The boy was abducted from his home 14 years ago.

Investigators found his body in a makeshift grave near Joshua Tree National Park two weeks later. They say they also found Duncan’s partial fingerprints at the crime scene.

A lengthy mental competency hearing delayed the murder trial. Duncan insisted on defending himself after he alleged that his attorneys were conspiring against him.

A new defense team is expected to ask prosecutors to accept Duncan’s guilty plea, in exchange for avoiding the death sentence and an expensive murder trial. Riverside County’s new district attorney, Paul Zellerbach, already has more than three dozen death penalty cases under review. Duncan’s next court appearance is set for next month.