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Idaho suspect to be charged with murder

Prosecutor: 3 counts due Tuesday could bring death penalty

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Joseph Duncan appears last week before First District Magistrate Judge Scott Wayman via video.

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(CNN) -- A convicted sex offender accused of kidnapping an 8-year-old Idaho girl will be charged Tuesday with three counts of first-degree murder, the prosecutor in the case said Monday.

Kootenai County Prosecuting Attorney Bill Douglas told CNN that Joseph Edward Duncan III will be charged in the killings of Shasta Groene's mother, a brother and her mother's boyfriend.

However, Douglas said Duncan, 42, will not be charged with the murder of Shasta's 9-year-old brother, Dylan, because those charges fall under the jurisdiction of Montana prosecutors.

Investigators confirmed Sunday that remains found July 4 in the Lolo National Forest in western Montana have been positively identified as Dylan Groene.

The grisly discovery came two days after Shasta Groene was found with Duncan at a restaurant in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, seven weeks after the children vanished.

The murder charges against Duncan will include aggravating factors that could bring the death penalty, Douglas said.

"We will allege both premeditation and felony murder -- that is, in the course of a kidnapping," the prosecutor said.

Duncan was charged last week with two counts of kidnapping with the intent to rape, commit an unnatural act or perform a lewd and lascivious act on a child younger than 16. Under Idaho law, those charges also carry a potential death sentence.

On May 16, the bodies of the children's mother, Brenda Groene, their older brother, Slade Groene, and the mother's boyfriend, Mark McKenzie, were found in their Coeur d'Alene home. They had been tied up and beaten to death.

When the two younger children could not be found, authorities launched a nationwide manhunt that ended July 2, when alert restaurant workers recognized the girl and called police.

An investigative document filed in the case revealed that Shasta Groene told police after her rescue that she saw Duncan tie up the family members on the day they were killed, although her statement did not say whether she witnessed the slayings.

She also told investigators that she and her brother had been sexually assaulted by Duncan, according to the document.

In 1980, Duncan was convicted of raping a 14-year-old boy at gunpoint in Washington state when he was 16. After completing his prison term in 2000, he moved to Fargo, North Dakota.

Earlier this year, he was charged with child molestation and attempted child molestation in Minnesota. After being released on bond, he fled Minnesota and was a fugitive until captured in Coeur d'Alene.

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