Wednesday, August 08, 2007
Another Outrageous Crime from sexual predators coming to an end. Lunsford killer eligible for execution.
INVERNESS, Fla. (AP) — A convicted sex offender found guilty of kidnapping, raping and burying alive a 9-year-old neighbor is not mentally retarded and is eligible for the death penalty, a judge ruled Tuesday.
Defense attorneys for John Evander Couey, 48, argued that he suffered lifelong mental abuse and possessed a below-normal IQ. A 2002 U.S. Supreme Court ruling prohibits the execution of mentally retarded people.
A jury had voted 10-2 to recommend that Couey be executed. Florida law puts the final sentencing decision in the hands of a judge, who must give great weight to a jury recommendation.
Circuit Judge Ric Howard in Citrus County ruled that the most credible intelligence exam rated Couey's IQ at 78, slightly above the 70 level generally considered retarded, The St. Petersburg Times reported.
Couey was convicted of entering the home of Jessica Lunsford in February 2005, taking the girl and killing her. Her body was later found in a grave in Couey's yard, about 150 yards from her own home. He was arrested in Georgia.
"A person who is mentally retarded simply could not have planned such a sophisticated crime, and escape," Howard wrote.
A telephone message could not be left for Couey's public defender, Daniel Lewan, by The Associated Press after hours Tuesday.
Sentencing has been scheduled for Aug. 24.