Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Couey says he expects to be sentenced to death

The man who kidnapped, raped and buried alive 9-year-old Jessica Lunsford told a relative recently that he expects to be sentenced to death, according to a recording of a jailhouse conversation obtained by the St. Petersburg Times.

John Couey, 49, talked to his aunt, Virginia Kloetzer, on Aug. 3 about his upcoming sentencing by Circuit Judge Richard Howard. Excerpts were posted on the Times Web site Wednesday.

"We all know what he's going to do," Couey said.

"Well, me too," his aunt replied. "But you know God's in control of everything."

"I don't worry about it because it's in his hands," he said. "I don't let it bother me."

He said he decided he wants to be cremated "when they finally do my execution."

At another point in the conversation, his aunt talked about the impact of the case on the family, and Couey expressed regret.

"It was stupid of me," Couey said.

"I kick myself in the butt a hundred times a day," Couey said at another point. "Stupidity. I just keep asking myself, why were you so stupid?"

A Miami jury convicted Couey of taking Jessica in February 2005 from her bedroom to his nearby trailer, where he raped her and buried her alive. Despite a massive search, the third-grader's body was found about three weeks after she disappeared in a grave in Couey's yard, about 150 yards from her own home in Homosassa.

The same jury brushed aside pleas for mercy and a life sentence from defense lawyers based on claims that Couey is mentally retarded and suffers from chronic mental illness.

Jurors recommended a death sentence by a vote of 10-2, but the final decision belongs to Howard, who will sentence him Friday.

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