Saturday, September 15, 2007

Couey Appeal Online

By THOMAS W. KRAUSE, The Tampa Tribune

Published: September 15, 2007

TAMPA - As John Couey's death-sentence appeal proceeds through the Florida Supreme Court, all documents related to it will be available on the court's Web site.

Most court documents are not being allowed to be posted online in Florida while a Supreme Court committee works out possible privacy issues. Cases designated 'high profile' are among the few exceptions.

On Wednesday, the state's high court designated Couey's appeal a high-profile case.

In the appeal, filed in late August, Couey's attorneys ask the justices to review 54 points, including:

•Circuit Judge Ric Howard's decision not to recuse himself.

•Howard's decision to move the trial to Miami without taking into account the demographic differences.

•Howard's refusal to give the defense more than the allotted 10 strikes used to eliminate potential jurors during the jury selection process.

•Howard's decision to allow prosecutors to use evidence related to Jessica Marie 'Jessie' Lunsford's body, even though investigators found the body because of statements Couey made to detectives. Couey's statements were not used in court because he requested but was not immediately provided a lawyer.

Couey was convicted of abducting the 9-year-old from her Homosassa mobile home, raping her and burying her alive in February 2005. Last month, he was sentenced to death.

To see the appeal documents, go to www.florida _info/summaries/briefs/ 07/07-1636/index.html.

Reporter Thomas W. Krause can be reached at (813)259-7698 or tkrause@tampatrib .com.

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