Joseph Duncan gets life in prison for California killing

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Steven Cuevas/KPCC

Riverside County District Attorney Paul Zellerbach speaks to reporters on March 15, 2011, after accepting a plea deal from attorneys for convicted killer Joseph Duncan.

A court in Riverside has sentenced the confessed killer of a 10-year-old Beaumont boy to two life terms in prison without the possibility of parole. An Idaho jury has convicted the same man in the slaying of four people in that state.

This life sentence for Joseph Duncan is the result of a plea deal that will allow him to avoid the death penalty in California.

He reached that agreement with Riverside County prosecutors last month in the murder case of Anthony Martinez. Duncan confessed to abducting, sexually assaulting and killing Martinez and leaving his body in the desert near Joshua Tree 14 years ago.

With the plea agreement, Duncan spared Riverside County the expense of a lengthy trial. In Idaho, a federal court sentenced him to death in the killing of two boys, their mother and her fiancé six years ago. He’s also implicated in the killings of two half-sisters in Seattle.

Duncan, 48, may face extradition to Washington State for trial in that case, or to death row at an Indiana federal prison.

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