Detectives Detail Murders At Duncan Hearing

BOISE – Law enforcement officers and the father of murder victim Dylan Groene were among the first of 90 witnesses prosecutors started calling to the stand at Joseph Duncan’s sentencing in Boise Thursday morning.

Spokane County Sheriff Deputy Dale Moyer was the first called to the stand Thursday morning, who was a deputy in Kootenai County when the murders at the Groene home in Wolf Lodge Bay happened in 2005.

Moyer was the first deputy to respond to the Groene home after a neighbor, stopping by the home to pay Slade Groene for mowing his lawn, saw blood on the door and called 911. Deputy Moyer cautiously approached the front of the home, seeing the blood on the door and calling for backup. He then recalled for the jury how he entered the home and discovering the victims inside.

Photos of the scene inside the Groene home were then shown to the jury with Moyer giving context to what they were seeing in the images. Moyer walked the jury through the house, describing how he had found the three victims – Slade and Brenda Groene and Mark McKenzie – and how he began searching room-by-room for the two youngest children, Dylan and Shasta.

“This case pushed me to the end,” Moyer said at one point of his testimony, adding that he had to leave law enforcement for several months to reflect on what he had seen at the Groene home.

After Moyer finished his testimony Steve Groene was called to the stand to testify. While a witness in the sentencing Groene had been sitting in the gallery through Moyer’s testimony. Judge Edward Lodge had asked Duncan if he objected to Groene being in the courtroom when other people testified and Duncan told Lodge he didn’t object to his presence.

Using a voicebox due to his throat cancer, Groene recounted the day he was told about the murders of his son and ex-wife and that his two youngest children were missing. Groene was on the stand for about four minutes recounting that day, and after answering the prosecutors’ questions Duncan declined to cross-examine him.

In fact, as the morning progressed Duncan declined cross-examining each of the prosecution’s witnesses and it wasn’t until the middle of the day that Duncan asked any questions of any of the witnesses. When he did question witnesses, it was only to clarify statements they had made.

Detective Alfred Swanson, a crime scene investigator with the Idaho State Police, described how investigators meticulously searched the grounds around the Groene residence and then searched the inside of the home for evidence.

Swanson was followed by Kootenai County Detective Brad Maskell, one of the lead investigators from the county who was saw the case through from the initial processing of the crime scene through Duncan’s arrest at a Coeur d’Alene Denny’s and his in-processing at the jail.

During a jailhouse interview with Duncan after his arrest Maskell said that he outlined the tactics he used to avoid the murders and kidnappings to be tracked back to him. Duncan bought and wore oversized shoes, wore gloves when handling anything he planned on taking to the Groene residence and wiped down and cleaned his shotgun.

The night he made his approach to the home Duncan cased the residence using night vision goggles and at one point made his approach to the bedroom window of the kids’ room. One of the family dogs entered the room, saw Duncan and growled, scaring Duncan off for a bit. Duncan then spent about an hour watching the house to see if anyone from inside came out to investigate.

Maskell said that Duncan nearly aborted his plan to enter the home but decided to approach the house again and check to see if the back door was locked. If the door was locked, Duncan might have left.

The door was unlocked.