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Cold case plea deal brings IE family justice

March 15, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
A convicted child killer reached a plea bargain with prosecutors to avoid another death sentence. The man appeared in an Indio courtroom Tuesday, where he pleaded guilty to murdering a 10-year-old boy from Beaumont. He already was sentenced to death for killing an Idaho boy and three members of the boy's family.

With Joseph Duncan pleading guilty to first-degree murder Tuesday morning, the victim's family finally has justice after nearly 14 years.

"We're ready for a conclusion, we're ready for it to be done," said Diana Gonzalez, the victim's mother. "It won't ever be closed, but it'll be done. It'll be over. And we can now mourn Tony's death the way we should have in the beginning."

Diana Gonzalez's son, Anthony Martinez, was murdered in 1997 when he was 10 years old. He was kidnapped from his front yard in Beaumont.

The community searched for him for more than two weeks.

But 15 days after he first went missing, his body was found in Indio.

Authorities didn't find the suspect until nearly a decade later, about the same time Joseph Edward Duncan was being sentenced to death in federal court in the state of Idaho on another murder case.

When Duncan was brought back to Riverside County for the Anthony Martinez case, the district attorney's office first decided to go for the death penalty. But after careful review, Riverside County Prosecutor Paul Zellerbach has accepted a plea deal for life in prison without parole.

"Mr. Duncan has earned the right to be executed. And you can only kill someone once, and I don't care if it's in federal court, in the state of Washington, or in the state of California," said Zellerbach.

Duncan will be sentenced in Riverside County on April 5. The following day he'll be sent back to federal prison, where the district attorney expects Duncan to be executed within a few years.


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