[Deathpenalty]death penalty news----FLORIDA
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Mon Mar 21 23:13:40 CST 2005
Sex offender charged in Fla. girl's slaying
A convicted sex offender was formally charged Monday with capital murder
and other crimes in the abduction and death of a 9-year-old Florida girl.
John Evander Couey, 46, was also charged with burglary, kidnapping and
sexual battery on a child under the age of 12, officials said. His
arraignment is set for Tuesday, officials said.
Authorities said he confessed to kidnapping and killing Jessica Marie
Lunsford after taking a lie-detector test in Georgia. The girl's body was
found Saturday, more than 3 weeks after she vanished from her Florida
Couey was brought back to Florida and booked Sunday on a probation
violation and failure to register his change of address as required as a
sex offender. He has been held without bond.
Sheriff's officials and the girl's father, Mark Lunsford, have said they
will urge prosecutors to seek the death penalty.
"I don't believe you have 2 chances when you get involved with a young
child," Sheriff Jeff Dawsy told ABC's Good Morning America early Monday.
Jessica, a 3rd grader, was last seen the night of Feb. 23 when she went to
bed after attending church. Her body was found near a mobile home where
Couey had been staying at the time of the abduction about 150 yards from
The 5-foot-4, 120-pound Couey entered the Lunsford house through an
unlocked door and later sexually assaulted her, Dawsy said. Authorities
believe Couey was under the influence of drugs.
Medical examiners determined that Jessica died from asphyxiation, the
arrest report said.
"The defendant stated that he knew the victim was dead and that everyone
would know that he did it after the body was found," the arrest report
Down the street from the Lunsford home, well-wishers have piled dozens of
stuffed animals, flowers and candles high on a makeshift memorial. "God's
newest little angel," one sign read.
(source: Associated Press)
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