Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Criminal Profiling Topic of the Day: Justice for Jessie

The penalty phase in the trial of John Couey continues today in a Miami, FL courtroom. The same jury of six men and six women who found Couey guilty of first-degree murder, burglary, kidnapping and sexual battery one week ago, must now recommend by majority vote whether Couey will be put to death or spend the remainder of his life in prison for the rape and murder of 9-year-old Jessica Lunsford in 2005. The defense has urged jurors to sentence him to life in prison, putting psychologists on the witness stand who testified that Couey was mentally retarded. The law prohibits execution of someone judged mentally retarded. The prosecution has called their own experts who state that Couey was well aware of his actions when he kidnapped, raped, and murdered little Jessica.

John Couey is a waste of skin who knew exactly what he wanted to do to Jessica Lunsford, and the veritable poster boy for the flaws in our justice system that contributes to the horrific deaths of children like Jessie at the hands of monsters like him.

Couey’s rap sheet includes no less than 24 burglary arrests, an arrest for carrying a concealed weapon without a permit, and an arrest for indecent exposure. During a home burglary in 1978, he was accused of grabbing a girl in her bedroom, placing his hand over her mouth, and kissing her. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison, but was paroled in 1980. In 1991, Couey became a registered sex offender when he was arrested in Kissimmee, FL on a charge of committing a Lewd and Lascivious Act in the Presence of a Child. However, the criminal court progress docket for this case shows Couey was allowed to plead guilty to a reduced charge of Attempted Lewd Act on a Child, and given credit for 135 days time served in a state prison. How does one get arrested 27 times by age 46 and not still be incarcerated?

And what about Couey’s housemates? According to CBS News reports, court documents state "Couey's timeline of events after he kidnapped Jessica Lunsford leaves open the possibility she was alive and in the house at the time of the first and possibly the second interview," Citrus County sheriff's deputies stopped twice at the sister's singlewide mobile home while canvassing the neighborhood after Jessie was reported missing Feb. 24. At the first interview, shortly after the child was reported missing, the deputies spoke to Couey's niece and her boyfriend. The second time, deputies spoke with the same niece and Couey's half sister. Jessica lived just 150 yards away and her abduction was all over the news. Authorities say the residents concealed the fact that Couey was staying at the trailer. This suggests to me that they may have known Couey kidnapped Jessica and had her in the house. DNA evidence proved that he raped the little girl on the bedroom mattress. Jessica’s fingerprints were also found on other areas in the bedroom, and it is believed Couey kept her alive for a time in the bedroom closet. How could 4 other adults living in such tight quarters not have heard or seen anything? One month later, Jessica was found near the trailer-- right where Couey told investigators he buried her alive. How could these 4 people not hear the sound of the plastic bags being wrapped around Jessie, or Couey outside digging a hole and then burying the little girl alive as she struggled, poking holes in the plastic garbage bags with her fingers? It is truly horrifying to contemplate whether someone else in that household could have seen her or even just heard that little girl cry out, and did nothing to help her. If so, they are equally guilty of all charges and deserve the same punishment as the monster they protected with their silence.

Donna Weaver

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