BOISE, Idaho — Jurors on Tuesday watched a police interview of an 8-year-old girl that was videotaped soon after she was rescued from a convicted pedophile who she said raped her and forced her to watch him torture, molest and kill her younger brother.
Appearing composed and wrapped in a quilt decorated with teddy bears, Shasta Groene described how she and her 9-year-old brother, Dylan, were raped and forced to perform sex acts together by Joseph Edward Duncan III, whom she called "Jet."
The federal jury is to decide whether Duncan should be executed. He has pleaded guilty to 10 federal counts involving the kidnapping and torture of the children and the slaying of Dylan at a remote campsite in western Montana. He also faces the death penalty in a separate state case in which he pleaded guilty to murdering the siblings' family.
While it is The Associated Press' policy not to identify alleged victims of sexual assault in most cases, the search for Shasta and her brother was so heavily publicized that their names are widely known.
Interview done shortly after rescue
The 2005 interview presented in court was taped at the Kootenai Medical Center, where Shasta Groene, then 8, was being treated shortly after she was spotted with Duncan and rescued at a restaurant in Coeur d'Alene.
On one occasion, she recounted, Duncan took Dylan into an old shack, made him stand on a bench, wrapped wire around his neck, kicked a bench out from under his legs and masturbated as the boy nearly choked to death.
"Then Jet took him down and said, 'Wake up, wake up, wake up,'" Shasta recounted, her voice steady.
Her brother screamed when he woke up because he thought he had been in heaven, she told investigators.
The children were abducted from their home in May 2005 after Duncan fatally bludgeoned their mother, Brenda Groene, their 13-year-old brother, Slade, and the mother's fiance, Mark McKenzie.
Duncan, of Tacoma, Wash., is acting as his own attorney. He has a long string of arrests and convictions for crimes ranging from car theft to rape and molestation. He is suspected in the slayings of two half-sisters from Seattle in 1996 and is charged with killing a young boy in Riverside County, Calif., in 1997.
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