Sunday, May 27, 2007

Report: Jessica Lunsford case cost more than $500,000

The Associated Press

OCALA, Fla. - The prosecution of a man convicted of abducting, raping and killing 9-year-old Jessica Lunsford has cost more than $573,000 so far, a newspaper reported Sunday.

John Evander Couey still faces sentencing for the February 2005 slaying and could get the death penalty.

Prosecutors, the Citrus County sheriff's office, the state circuit court and Couey's public defenders have spent $573,566.65 so far in the case, according to a public records analysis by the Ocala Star-Banner. Couey's trial was moved from central Florida to Miami because of pretrial publicity.

Lodging, food, overtime, security costs and other travel expenses for staff members accounted for $321,072.32, the newspaper reported.

"I guess the best way to put it into perspective is to ask (the public) the question: 'How much is your kid's life worth? How much money should our office have had to spend to make sure your child's killer was brought to justice?'" said State Attorney Brad King.

A jury in March convicted 48-year-old Couey of taking Jessica from her bed, raping her and burying her alive in his yard. They recommended 10-2 that he get the death penalty, but the final sentencing decision will be left to Circuit Judge Richard Howard.

"From a legal standpoint, it's a lot less than I thought it would be. I expected at least $1 million, maybe two," said Stetson College of Law Professor Charles Rose III, who commented on the case for Court TV. "The taxpayers of Florida got a good deal on their investment."
Information from: Ocala Star-Banner,

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