Friday, August 24, 2007
By SAMARA SODOSand THOMAS W. KRAUSE News Channel 8
Published: Aug 24, 2007
BROOKSVILLE - John Evander Couey is prepared to die.
In a 75-minute conversation with his aunt, recorded at the Citrus County jail a few weeks ago, Couey said he expects Citrus County Circuit Court Judge Ric Howard to sentence him to death during a hearing this afternoon.
"I know what he's going to do," Couey told his aunt, Virginia Kloetzer.
"Well, me too, but you know God is in control of everything," she said. "That's why I don't worry much about it because it's in his hands. That's why I don't let it bother me."
In March, a Miami jury convicted Couey for the kidnapping, rape and murder of 9-year-old Jessica Marie "Jessie" Lunsford. In a 10-2 vote, jurors recommended that Couey die by lethal injection. The case was moved to Miami after Howard could not seat an impartial jury in Central Florida.
Today, Howard must give great weight to the jury's recommendation when he makes the final decision on Couey's fate. Sentencing begins at 2 p.m. in Inverness.
Other Observers Agree
Couey isn't the only one who thinks Howard is ready to impose the death penalty.
Mark Gellman, the personal attorney for Jessie's father, said he would be shocked if Howard ignored the jury's recommendation. Mark Lunsford, likewise, is convinced Couey will be sentenced to die, Gellman said.
"There is no reason to depart from the jury's recommendation," Gellman said. "I think the world would be shocked. To me, the only suspense is going to be what the judge has to say to Couey."
Up until now, the judge has remained fairly reserved through the court proceedings. Gellaman said he expects Howard to unleash himself.
"I think the judge is going to chew the guy out," Gellman said. "I think there are going to be fireworks."
Couey and his aunt spend much of their recorded conversation discussing family members and the whereabouts of old friends and acquaintances. Couey often chuckles as his aunt gossips.
Occasionally, the conversation veers into the pending sentencing decision and Couey's fate.
God, Kloetzer tells her nephew, knows when he wants to take his children.
"He might not want me anyway," Couey says with a nervous laugh. "I might end up getting it anyway. You know, the other thing."
"Why Were You So Stupid?"
Although Couey generally speaks with little emotion, he does berate himself for what happened.
"I kick myself in the butt 100 times a day," he said. "I just can't figure it out. I keep asking myself, why were you so stupid?"
Couey said he thought his attorneys could have done a better job, but overall he was pleased with their work. He joked that he knows he didn't make it any easier on them by running his mouth.
Still, he said he his actions brought some good results.
"Well, there is a lot of good that came out of this, too," he said. "A lot of laws got changed. I mean, you got to look at the good points of it, too. I'm glad it did happen and things came out the way it did."
Couey's conversation is typical of murderers and pedophiles, said Assistant State Attorney Peter Magrino, who helped prosecute the case. They want to make themselves look good.
"It is a classic response by a pedophile trying to see some good in his criminal acts," Magrino said.
Reporter Samara Sodos can be reached at email@example.com or (813) 314-5379. Reporter Thomas W. Krause can be reached at (813)259-7698.