Idaho

Idaho death penalty cost report finds limited data


mars 20, 2014

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — A new report from Idaho’s state auditors shows that sentencing a defendant to life in prison without parole is less expensive than imposing the death penalty.

But the Office of Performance Evaluations also found that the state’s criminal justice agencies don’t collect enough data to determine the total cost of the death penalty. The report was presented to the Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Wednesday by Hannah Crumrine and Tony Grange.

Idaho is one of 32 states with the death penalty, but two of those states — Oregon and Washington — have moratoriums on executions. Idaho has executed 29 people since 1864, but only three since 1977. Keith Eugene Wells was executed in 1944, Paul Ezra Rhoades was executed in 2011 and Richard Leavitt was executed in 2012.

It’s difficult to determine just how much imposing the death penalty costs, Crumrine told the committee, in part because most of the needed data is unavailable. Law enforcement agencies typically don’t differentiate between the costs of investigating death penalty murder cases and non-death penalty murder cases, and jail and prison staffers don’t track the transport costs to bring a condemned prisoner to court cases versus a regular prisoner.

The researchers were able to determine some costs, however: Eleven counties have been reimbursed more than $4.1 million for capital defense costs since 1998, and the state appellate public defender’s office has spent nearly half a million dollars on death penalty cases between 2004 and 2013.

The Idaho Department of Correction spent more than $102,000 on executing Leavitt and Rhoades.

In any case, it’s clear that death penalty cases cost more than sentencing an offender to life without parole, according to the report, in part because it takes longer for the appeal process to come to an end in death penalty cases.d

And the ultimate penalty is seldom imposed: The report found that of the 251 first-degree murder cases filed from 1998 to 2013, prosecutors sought the death penalty in 42 and it was imposed in just seven cases.

Of the 40 people sentenced to death in Idaho since the death penalty was reinstated by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1977, 21 have had their sentences overturned on appeal or are no longer sentenced to death for other reasons, 12 are still appealing their cases and four died in prison. Just three were executed during that time span.

Idaho Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter wrote a letter responding to the report, stating that he believes state agencies have been diligent in accounting for and containing costs. Otter wrote that though the report raises the question of whether tax dollars are spent wisely on capital punishment, he continues to support the death penalty laws.

“The Idaho Department of Correction in particular has been exemplary in its duty to responsibly carry out death sentences,” Otter wrote. “… And while your report raises and then leaves open the policy questions of whether tax dollars are wisely spent on death penalty cases, let me leave no doubt about my own continuing support for our existing laws and procedures.”

 

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Idaho high court considers death penalty reviews. Case of Timothy Dunlap


November 8, 2012 http://www.seattlepi.com

OISE, Idaho  — The Idaho Supreme Court is deciding just how much of each death penalty case they must consider under Idaho’s mandatory review law, and the ruling could dramatically change the landscape of capital punishment in Idaho.

The issues arose in the case of Timothy Dunlap, who is sentenced to death in both Idaho and Ohio for two murders committed during a 10-day span in 1991.

Dunlap was arrested in Idaho after prosecutors said he used a sawed-off shotgun to kill 25-year-old bank teller Tonya Crane during a robbery in Soda Springs. After his arrest, police said he confessed to murdering his girlfriend, Belinda Bolanos, with a crossbow and dumping her body along the Ohio River 10 days before Crane’s murder.

Dunlap was convicted in Ohio and sentenced to death there for Bolanos‘ murder; but because he was convicted in Idaho first, Idaho is first in line for his execution.

It’s not uncommon for death row inmates to appeal multiple issues before multiple courts, all at the same time. Now 44, Dunlap is no exception, and his appeal before the Idaho Supreme Court includes more than 50 different issues.

The decision from the Idaho Supreme Court on what must be reviewed could dramatically limit the types of appeals that death row defendants can bring.

The Idaho Legislature created the mandatory review law in 1977, requiring the Idaho Supreme Court to review every death sentence whether the defendant wants them to or not.

The law was designed to do two things: First, meet federal requirements that the death penalty be imposed only on a narrow group of criminals whose crimes were worthy of such a severe sanction; and second, speed up the appeals process by ensuring there were no problems with the way the death penalty was imposed.

But Idaho Deputy Attorney General LaMont Anderson says the law has actually slowed death row cases because the Idaho Supreme Court has never defined the scope of the mandatory review.

That means that once the mandatory review is done, the federal appeals court assumes the Idaho Supreme Court justices have considered all the sentencing issues in a case, even if a particular issue was never mentioned before the lower court. Many types of appeals can’t be brought before the federal courts until they’ve been considered by a state court, but since the federal courts have interpreted Idaho’s mandatory review law as all-encompassing, virtually no sentencing appeal is off limits, Anderson contends.

But Shannon Romero, Dunlap’s defense attorney with the state’s appellate public defender’s office, maintains that the Idaho Supreme Court has implemented the mandatory review rule correctly. The Idaho Supreme Court has an obligation to make sure that the death penalty is being carried out in a way that’s constitutional, and that means considering everything, Romero contends.

The Idaho Attorney General’s office wants to treat death penalty cases like any other criminal case, and that’s just not right, she told the court.

The U.S. Supreme Court “has long recognized that death is different from every form of punishment,” Romero wrote in a brief to the court, in large part because it is totally irrevocable.

The justices took the matter under advisement and didn’t say when they would issue a decision

IDAHO – UPDATE – Richard Leavitt – Execution June 12 – 10:00 a.m EXECUTED


Richard Leavitt

Richard Leavitt, 53, was pronounced dead at 10:25 a.m. at the Idaho Maximum Security Institution.

He offered no final statement, and the only time he spoke was to decline to have his head covered. 

JUNE 12 8.00 a.m 

BOISE — Idaho Dept. of Corrections Director Brent Reinke spoke to members of the media in a short briefing prior to convicted murderer Richard Leavitt’s Tuesday execution.

Reinke addressing those gathered outside the Idaho Maximum Security Institution just after 8 a.m.

Idaho’s top prison official began by emphasizing the serious nature of the execution, saying prison staff “take no joy in this duty.”

Reinke went on to explain that preparations for the State’s second execution in the last seven months have seen few changes since the execution of Paul Ezra Rhoades in November 2011.

The prison chief also took several questions from reporters.

Reinke described Leavitt’s current mood as “resolved,” and said the convicted murderer had been meeting with family members throughout Monday night.

Reinke said Leavitt did not meet with a spiritual adviser.

Reinke also explained that Leavitt had been offered, and had subsequently taken several sedatives in preparation for his 10 a.m. execution.

Leavitt is also actively meeting with his attorney, and will continue to do so until the final minutes of his life, according to Reinke.

SCHEDULE OF EXECUTION

6 a.m. — Demonstration areas open

9:35 a.m. — Witnesses enter viewing rooms

10 a.m. — Warden reads death warrant to Leavitt and witnesses

10:03 a.m. — Warden asks Leavitt if he wishes to make final statement

10:10 a.m. — Lethal injection begins

10:35 a.m. — Warden declares execution complete

– Source: Idaho Department of Correction

June 11, 2012 Source : http://www.therepublic.com

BOISEIdaho — Convicted killer Richard Leavitt was calm and spending what was expected to be his last full day alive meeting with his team of lawyers and a handful of approved visitors at his cell on Idaho’s death row, prison officials said Monday.

Leavitt, 53, is scheduled to be put to death Tuesday morning by lethal injection at Idaho Maximum Security Institution, south of Boise. He was convicted in 1985 for the brutal stabbing death of Danette Elg, a 31-year-old woman from Blackfoot.

Leavitt, along with members of his family, insists he didn’t commit the crime. But barring any last-minute reprieve from federal judges, Leavitt will be just the second Idaho inmate put to death in 17 years.

He was calm as he met with visitors and lawyers, state prisons spokesman Jeff Ray said.

Leavitt declined to disclose the identity of his approved visitors. Ray said Leavitt will have baked chicken, french fries and milk for his last meal.

Tuesday’s execution will be different in two ways from the execution last November of Paul Ezra Rhoades.

The state’s execution team will administer a single, lethal dose of pentobarbital, a drug used as a surgical sedative. Last fall, Rhoades was given a lethal injection of three chemicals.

If the execution goes forward, it will mark the first time state and media witnesses will view Idaho’s lethal injection process in its entirety. Last fall, witnesses were barred from seeing the execution team escort Rhoades into the chamber, strap him to a gurney and insert the IV catheters into his arms.

Prison officials had blocked that portion of the execution to protect the identity of the execution team members. But more than a dozen news organizations sued the state, alleging that the Idaho Department of Correction policy limiting access to an execution from start to finish violated the First Amendment and the public’s right to know.

The news groups, led by The Associated Press, sought to expand access to bring Idaho policies in line with a 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which ruled on a 2002 case that the public has a right to view executions in their entirety. The portion of the execution process blocked by Idaho prison officials has been subject to legal challenges by death row inmates nationwide, claiming the insertion of the catheters can be botched in a way that causes pain, other medical complications and raises questions about the dignity of the process.

On Friday, a three-judge panel from the San Francisco-based court sided with the news groups and ordered IDOC to modify its policy.

The same federal appeals court on Monday rejected two requests by Leavitt’s team of lawyers to rehear appeals in his case.

Late Monday, they U.S. Supreme Court rejected a motion Leavitt filed Sunday seeking a stay of the execution.

June 10, 2012 Source : http://www.kivitv.com

36 Hours before his scheduled execution, Richard Leavitt maintains his innocence 

For more than a quarter century Richard Leavitt has called Death Row home.

Leavitt is scheduled to die by lethal injection Tuesday morning for the brutal July 1984 murder of 31-year-old Danette Elg of Blackfoot.

A jury convicted Leavitt of stabbing Elg 15 times and cutting out her sexual organs.

Leavitt never confessed to the murder. And, he tells Today’s 6 News and FOX 9 News at 9:00, he is innocent.

“They [the State of Idaho] are killing an innocent man,” Leavitt said.

Police linked Leavitt to Elg’s murder after finding the condemned killer’s blood on her underwear. However, Leavitt claims he had a nose bleed and used Elg’s clothing to wipe the blood.

“It was dark,” Leavitt said. “I didn’t know what I was grabbing if it was panties or a T-Shirt or a blanket…”

Leavitt claims Thelma Wilkins, who he says was Danette’s lover, killed her.

Police and prosecutors argue Leavitt led them to Danette’s body. But, Leavitt says he was one of several people at Elg’s home when Blackfoot Police discovered her mutilated body.

“We were all there when they broke into the house, not just me,Leavitt said. “There were probably five or six or seven of us there. They called me back two or three hours later and asked if I could identify Danette. I wlaked into the house holding my breath, seen what I seen and said all I can say is that it looks like her hair.”

Over the decades, the Death Row inmate passed two polygraph tests.

But, every appeal at every level failed.

Leavitt’s execution is scheduled for 10 a.m. Tuesday in Boise.

His attorneys are drafting one final appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court which will be reviewed Monday.

June 8, 2012 Source : http://www.nwcn.com

Final preps underway for Leavitt execution

BOISE — On Tuesday, Richard Leavitt will be executed for the 1984 murder of Danette Elg in Blackfoot. The Idaho Department of Correction is making the final preparations for his death by lethal injection.

The maximum security prison is now in Incident Command Mode, which means heightened alert and heightened security. It will stay that way until after the execution.

Leavitt is in a cell in F Block, the same building that holds the execution chamber where he is scheduled to be put to death on Tuesday. He’s being monitored 24 hours a day by two officers.

“For an individual who’s looking at, what we’re looking at on Tuesday, he’s anxious but in fairly good spirits,” said Brent Reinke, the Director of the Department of Correction.

He says Leavitt has had regular visits from his attorney, but has not requested a spiritual advisor.

“Other than that, he’s been waiting and watching, and watching legal procedures, legal actions like we all have been,” said Reinke.

Leavitt is expected to have visitors through the night on Monday, his execution is scheduled for 10:00 a.m. Tuesday.

Reinke says he’s expecting members of the victim’s family and Leavitt’s family to be there, but can’t yet say who or how many might be witnesses to the execution. A handful of law enforcement and government officials and some media will be allowed to witness the execution.

Leavitt will be allowed to make a statement, then given a single lethal injection.

“As we move forward, it will be the one drug of pentobarbital,” said Reinke.

This new protocol is a departure from the three injections of three different chemicals used in the past. The other chemicals became harder to obtain, and according to one lawyer representing death row inmates, the one injection reduces the risk of excruciating pain for the prisoner.

Reinke is also expecting protesters.

“This is a very polarizing event. So we’ll be having both pros and cons,” said Reinke. “We have lots, areas set aside for individuals who want to come out and express their freedom of speech.”

But Reinke says no matter how you feel about this man or the process, his department has a job to do on Tuesday.

“We want to make sure that this is carried out with as much professionalism, dignity, and respect as we possibly can,” said Reinke.

After the execution, Leavitt’s body will be handed over to the Ada County coroner.

Reinke also says the escort and medical teams have been training for this day for months, and their mental well being is one of his biggest priorities.

June 7, 2012 Source : AP

News organizations appeal Idaho execution case

BOISE, Idaho  — A legal challenge seeking full viewing access to Idaho executions will go before a federal appeals court Thursday, with The Associated Press and 16 other news organizations saying the process is unconstitutionally restrictive.

The lawsuit comes as lethal injections have drawn greater scrutiny, from whether the drugs are effective to whether the execution personnel are properly trained.

The news organizations filed a federal lawsuit last month seeking to strike the portion of Idaho’s regulations that prevent witnesses — including reporters acting as representatives of the public — from viewing executions until after catheters have been inserted into the veins of death row inmates.

The news organizations also asked a judge to prevent next week’s execution of Richard Leavitt from moving forward without the changes, but a federal judge denied that request Tuesday.

In his decision, U.S. District Judge Edward J. Lodge said that while the news organizations had presented a strong case in arguing that the execution limits run afoul of freedom of the press provisions, the timing of the claim fell too close to Leavitt’s execution date and could cause a delay.

Lodge didn’t rule on the merits of the lawsuit, only denying the request for a preliminary injunction. The news organizations now are want the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to reverse Lodge’s decision. The hearing is set for Thursday morning in Pasadena, Calif.

The hearing comes five days ahead of Leavitt’s scheduled execution. He was convicted of murder in the 1984 killing of Blackfoot resident Danette Elg.

In a brief filed in support their appeal, the news organizations argue the reasons given by the Idaho Department of Correction for closing a portion of the execution process do not pass constitutional muster.

The news organizations also took issue with Lodge’s finding that the lethal injection protocol could be altered in the future without harm to the parties involved.

Chuck Brown, an attorney for the news organizations, argued this represented a “profound event.”

“The lower court is essentially finding that a First Amendment right can be violated today as long as it is possible for First Amendment rights to be reasserted at some date in the future. Such a finding flies in the face of what our constitutional rights are all about,” Brown said in court documents.

Additionally, the news organizations targeted Lodge’s finding that their claim was filed too late and if granted could force a delay in Leavitt’s execution. The public has an interest in viewing the whole execution process, Lodge said, but it also has an interest in seeing the judgment enforced without disruption.

“Perhaps the department would need to reschedule the execution of Mr. Leavitt for a later date,” Brown said.

He added, “perhaps the department could simply draw open the curtains on the preparatory stage and proceed as scheduled with only minor adjustments.”

The news organizations have cited a 9th Circuit ruling in a 2002 California case that found every aspect of an execution should be open to witnesses, from the moment the condemned enters the death chamber to the final heartbeat. The ruling established what was expected of the nine Western states within the court’s jurisdiction.

The news organizations filed their case after talks were unsuccessful with prison officials, who took the position that the 2002 ruling was based on facts unique to California, Brown said, citing letters from Idaho correction director Brent Reinke.

Deputy Attorney General Michael S. Gilmore, on behalf of state officials, has asked the 9th Circuit to affirm Lodge’s ruling.

Gilmore said in court documents that the lower court reviewed the case “under applicable procedural and substantive law. It engaged in a reasoned, record-based analysis that weighed competing factors for and against a preliminary injunction in a measured, articulate manner.”

June 4, 2012  Source : http://www.kivitv.com

The attorney for death row inmate Richard Leavitt argued for a stay of execution today before the state supreme court.

Attorney David Nevin says the courts have changed procedures in the past year in ways that affect this case, and there are still significant issues that need to be heard before Leavitt’s scheduled execution in just over a week. The state says it’s just a stalling tactic. Attorney David Nevin says Leavitt should get a stay because of significant blood evidence that wasn’t heard during the first trial.

He says that issue is important enough the state should hear it before allowing next Tuesday’s execution.
Nevin says evidence existed to counter the prosecution’s key argument that blood from Leavitt and Danette Elg were mixed indicating they were spilled at the same time.

“It was the last argument by the prosecution who said it was conclusive proof of leavett’s guilt. Well the defense was in posession of a report by an expert that said they weren’t mixed,” says Nevin.

Nevin says the report was witheld for tactical reasons because the expert witness might also have provided other evidence harmful to Leavitt’s case. The prosecution says all this is just a stalling tactic to allow all sorts of last minute appeals.

“This rule, if we interpret it the way counsel would like us to would allow for third party top come along minutes before an execution, file a motion to cause a review and then we have to start over,” says assistant Attorney General LaMont Anderson.

Decisions from the court can sometimes take weeks, but in this case will likely be expedited because of the execution timeline.
Leavitt was convicted of murder in 1984 and his case has been going through the appeals process for the past 28 years.

The 9th circuit court will hear an appeal this thursday on whether Leavitt’s original counsel was ineffective.

June 1, 2012 Source : http://www.spokesman.com

The Idaho Supreme Court has set oral arguments for Monday at 3 p.m. on a series of last-minute issues raised by condemned murderer Richard Leavitt, who is scheduled to be executed June 12. Late yesterday, the high court dismissed a major filing by Leavitt’s attorneys, a petition to vacate the death warrant and conduct a new hearing. The remaining issues, including a notice of appeal first filed May 21 in Bingham County, will be argued on Monday.

The Supreme Court has posted a link here on its website to all the last-minute filings in the capital murder case, which also include federal court filings; you can read its Thursday order here. Leavitt’s death warrant was issued May 17 for the July 1984 murder and mutilation of Danette Elg in Blackfoot; his final appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court was rejected on May 14. Idaho completed its first execution in 17 years in November, putting triple murderer Paul Ezra Rhoades to death by lethal injection.

May 25, 2012 Source : http://www.kboi2.com

BOISE, Idaho  — The attorney representing a death row inmate scheduled to die in two weeks says he has passed a polygraph test that proves he’s innocent.

Richard Albert Leavitt was convicted of the 1984 stabbing murder of Blackfoot resident Danette Elg. Proseuctors said he stabbed her repeatedly and then cut out her sexual organs. He is scheduled to be put to death by lethal injection on June 12.

But Leavitt has long maintained his innocence in the case, and now his attorney, David Nevin, is asking the federal court to accept a polygraph test as proof of that claim. Polygraph tests are typically not admissible as evidence in court.

Nevin is also asking for the court to allow DNA testing on some evidence from the crime scene. The judge has previously turned down the request, saying he doubted the “proposed testing would bring favorable results.”

But Nevin contends that it’s not possible to know what, if anything, the DNA testing will reveal until it’s completed. If the blood of a third person were found at the scene, that would be exculpatory, Nevin said.

“The state is rushing headlong into executing an innocent man. Surely it is not too much to ask that important evidence in the case be tested at no expense and no risk to the state,” Nevin wrote to the court.

He also said a renowned polygraph expert, Boise State University psychology professor Charles Honts, examined Leavitt and found him to be truthful when he denied involvement in Elg’s murder.

Honts asked Leavitt three questions, according to court documents: “Did you stab Danette Elg?“, “Did you remove Danette Elg’s internal genitals?” and “Were you present when Danette Elg was stabbed?”

Leavitt answered “no” to all three, according to the filing. Honts also found that Leavitt’s breathing, heart rate and other physiological signals were consistent with those expected when someone is telling the truth. Honts concluded that Leavitt’s answers had a high statistical possibility of being truthful.

“Mr. Leavitt’s passing the polygraph examination provides eloquent confirmation that he is not Danette Elg’s killer, and that he is, on the contrary, innocent,” wrote Nevin.

Leavitt was arrested after authorities discovered Elg’s body in her blood-spattered bedroom four days after her June 18, 1984 murder. Just a day or two before her death, Elg called 911 and reported a prowler had tried to enter her home. When police arrived they found signs of attempted entry but nothing else, and Elg told them she suspected Leavitt was the culprit.

Prosecutors also say that during the four days between Elg’s murder and the discovery of her body, Leavitt was exceedingly interested in her whereabouts, finally getting permission to enter the home with police who discovered the body.

Additionally, Leavitt’s blood was found in the bedroom. He later claimed that he’d gotten a nosebleed while in the room several days before Elg’s death.

And prosecutors claimed that one of the strangest elements of the murder — that Elg’s internal sexual organs were removed in a way that would be difficult to accomplish without some knowledge of anatomy — were explained when Leavitt’s ex-wife testified that during a hunting trip she had once found Leavitt removing the female sexual organs of a deer and playing with them.

IDAHO – Duncan now wants to appeal his death sentence


May 18, 2012 Source : http://www.spokesman.com

BOISE – Notorious multiple murderer Joseph Duncan was back in a Boise courtroom on Friday morning, as lawyers and a federal judge wrangled over setting a date for a new hearing into whether Duncan was mentally competent when he waived appeals of his triple death sentence for torturing and murdering a 9-year-old North Idaho boy.

Duncan, brought to Boise from federal Death Row in Terre Haute, Ind., his hair close-cropped and graying and wearing a baggy white T-shirt, left all the talking to his attorneys on Friday morning. But in December of 2010, he submitted a hand-written, two-page letter to the court saying he now wants to appeal after all.

Duncan in the past has strongly opposed contentions that he wasn’t mentally competent to make that decision in 2008. He underwent two lengthy mental evaluations before U.S. District Judge Edward Lodge ruled him competent and allowed him to dismiss his lawyers in that sentencing trial and represent himself; he already had pleaded guilty to all charges. The lawyers filed an appeal to the 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals against Duncan’s wishes, arguing he was mentally incompetent.

“I have been very stubborn about not appealing my death sentence,” the condemned killer wrote. “My belief is that if I appeal, then I am acknowledging the system’s authority to commit murder.”

But he wrote that more recently, his younger brother had died, making Duncan his mother’s only surviving son. “It would be utterly cruel, and indeed, inhuman, for me not to consider my mother’s love when deciding what to do in regard to my own life,” Duncan wrote. “So I hereby inform you, and any others concerned, that I withdraw my waiver of appeal, and consent fully to all efforts and advice given by my attorneys to appeal.”

He added, “I love my mother, and if I could only regret one thing, it would be how I have hurt her. I am the biggest fool that I know.”

In 2008, a federal jury sentenced Duncan to death for the kidnap, torture and murder of 9-year-old Dylan Groene. He also received nine life sentences for a murderous rampage in 2005, in which he killed three members of Dylan’s family in order to kidnap and molest the family’s two youngest children; only Dylan’s then-8-year-old sister, Shasta, survived.

Since then, Duncan also has been convicted of kidnapping and murdering a 10-year-old California boy, drawing two more life sentences; in that case, after weeks of expert testimony, the court ruled him mentally competent.

In the Idaho case, however, the judge never held a competency hearing in open court, meaning all the information on Duncan’s mental competency remained secret. The 9th Circuit ruled that without such a hearing, there was “reasonable doubt” about Duncan’s competency, and ordered Lodge to hold a “retrospective” competency hearing on Duncan’s mental state in 2008.

If, after the hearing, Lodge rules that Duncan was competent when he waived his right to appeal, the death sentence stands. But if not, Lodge would then have to hold another hearing to determine if Duncan was mentally competent when he waived his right to an attorney in his 2008 sentencing trial and instead represented himself. That could force a replay of the whole sentencing trial.

In his closing statement in that trial in 2008, Duncan told the jury, “You people really don’t have any clue yet of the true heinousness of what I’ve done.” While on the run from a child-molesting charge in Minnesota in 2005, Duncan said he’d plotted terrible crimes targeting random children, from invading day-care centers to kidnappings at campgrounds. “I was not searching for a child but rather I was on a rampage,” he said. “My intention was to kidnap and rape and kill until I was killed, preferring death easily over capture.”

He traveled across eight states looking for child victims before attacking the Groene family in their home along I-90 at Wolf Lodge, just east of Coeur d’Alene.

On Friday, federal defender Dick Rubin told the court that Duncan now wants to be represented by an attorney for the competency hearing, and said Duncan shouldn’t answer any questions until his new attorney is appointed. He asked the court to appoint Michael Burt of San Francisco, a death penalty defense attorney who specializes in cases involving mental health.

However, Burt told the court Friday that he has another trial in the fall, and wouldn’t be available for Duncan’s competency hearing until December. Lodge had asked the attorneys to be ready for the hearing by this July, but prosecutors said they had other cases and wouldn’t be ready until October.

“The court’s not going to agree to that,” Lodge said. “This … has drug on. Memories get faulty.” He told the attorneys for both sides, “October-November is the latest. How you work that out is up to you.”

Calling a two-week recess, Lodge said, “We’re going to get the matter resolved.”