Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Couey's Mental State To Determine Sentence

Jury Recommended Death Sentence In March

Judge Will Make Final Decision Aug. 10th

(CBS4) INVERNESS Pre-sentencing testimony begins Tuesday in the case of John Evander Couey, the man convicted of abducting, raping and killing 9-year-old Jessica Lunsford in 2005.

Before Circuit Judge Richard Howard decides whether John Couey will get the death penalty, the court has to determine whether Couey is even eligible.

Couey’s attorney is expected to try and persuade the judge that Couey should get life in prison instead of death because Couey is mentally retarded.

Mentally retarded people can’t be executed under both Florida law and a 2002 U.S. Supreme Court decision.

The actual hearing, which is scheduled for next week, will determine whether Couey is mentally retarded. If that is the case, Couey will not be eligible for the death penalty.

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 ten-to-two that he get the death penalty. The final sentencing decision will be left to Judge Howard on August tenth.

Jessica's death led to tougher laws across the nation to keep better track of sex offenders and punish repeat offenders more severely.

Couey has a criminal record that includes 24 burglary arrests, carrying a concealed weapon and indecent exposure. He was designated a sex offender for exposing himself to a 5-year-old girl in 1991

No comments: