Friday, March 17, 2017
The case of John Couey V the United States
John Evander Couey V the United States
By Deneale K. Williams
Jessica Lunsford born on October 6, 1995 was a vibrant nine-year-old little girl. Jessica’s life was just beginning, a beautiful, young little girl with so much going for her. She had a loving family, and even a pet dog, everything she ever wanted. And of course, like any perfect little nine-year-old child, Jessica was a virgin. Jessica was a normal child, living happily ever after, and dreaming of a future, someday hoping to be a nurse, or even a doctor, looking forward to a long life. But compliments of John Couey, Jessica Lunsford’s life was going to change, and drastically early one morning in February in 2005.
John Couey decided to enter the alleged unlocked home of Jessica Lunsford’s grandparents and take her from her safety, a place she lived and loved. No one knows why he decided to take her, but he did.
Then John Couey took Jessica Lunsford into the safety of his own mobile home, along with her violet stuffed dolphin, and kept her as his own pet for a few days. Couey lived close by to the Lunsford residence, therefore the police managed to check around the Couey residence looking for Lunsford. Per Couey, Lunsford was still alive at the time, when the Police came looking for her. Couey advised Lunsford to remain quiet, that it was for her own good.
Couey raped Lunsford in his own bedroom, and kept her in his closet. Then Couey claimed that he tricked poor little Jessica Lunsford into getting into the trash bags, promising to her that he would than take her back home. Once she got into the trash bags, Couey decided the safest bet was to put her into the trash bags.
Couey’s half-sister, Dixon on March 14th, gave the police permission to search her home. It was on March 19th the Police discovered Jessica Lunsford's little body at the residence located on West Snowbird Court, buried in a hole approximately two point five inches deep and two inches’ circular, covered with leaves. Jessica’s tiny little body had undergone decomposition and according to the publicly released autopsy reports had begun skeletonizing on two fingers that Lunsford had poked through the bags before suffocating to death. The coroner ruled that death would have happened even in best circumstances within two to three minutes from lack of oxygen.
John Couey’s Attorney claims that Couey was not sane. Lewan thought it would be the best and most reasonable defense for Couey.
Jessica Lunsford had happiness no longer. Her life had been ripped from her, without any thought, without any recourse.
Describe the sentence handed down in this case.
Miami-Dade County Circuit Judge Richard Howard decided whether to accept the jurors' sentence recommendation whereas John Evander Couey was found guilty of murder, kidnapping, sexual assault and burglary in the abduction and death of nine-year-old Jessica Lunsford. Jurors recommended a death sentence. His charges were as follows: first degree murder, kidnapping, and capital sexual battery. On March 14, 2007, the jury unanimously recommended the death penalty. The case was appealed to the Florida Supreme Court. Couey continued to maintain that he was innocent until his death in September 2009.
Discuss whether the victim expressed any comment or participated in the sentencing process if that information is available. If the information is not available, speculate on what role the victim might have played in the sentencing process.
Couey, 48 at the time, born September 19, 1958 stood beside his lawyer and showed no emotion as the verdict was read. During the trial, he had been seen coloring in coloring books.
Summarize the information that would have been included in the PSI report.
Firstly, what does PSI mean? “A presentence investigation (PSI) is prepared for persons convicted of serious crimes. In misdemeanor and gross misdemeanor offenses, the court may order a PSI, whereas in felony cases a PSI is mandatory. State and federal statutes (18 U.S.C.A. § 3553(b) ) set PSI requirements and are supplemented by federal and state rules of Criminal Procedure.” Cited: www.theFreeDictionary.com
Secondly, John Couey’s PSI report: Defense experts testified that Couey is mentally impaired, suffers from longstanding mental illness and was a chronic drug and alcohol abuser. He was also abused by the boyfriend of his mother, who was sixteen at the time he was born, they said. Defense lawyers used these "mitigating" factors to save Couey from the death penalty and instead, life in prison without the possibility of parole.
In a taped phone conversation Couey blamed the drugs and alcohol and admitted he would get the death penalty, while talking to a woman ‘thought’ to be his Aunt. He admitted he was stupid. http://www.cnn.com/2009/CRIME/09/30/florida.couey.dead/
Discuss what comes next. If the defendant wishes to appeal the case, which court would get the appeal? What would the defendant have to show for the appeal to be granted?
The appeal was the first of many that will be filed in the case. Another filing listed items that needed to be reviewed by the 5th District Court of Appeal, and then to the Florida Supreme Court, the United States of America.
Assistant Public Defender Daniel Lewan raised several concerns, the same concerns he raised throughout the case and at trial. Some of the concerns included jury issues and the place where the trial was held. Lewan felt the trial should not have been tried in Miami-Dade, that it should have been tried in Citrus county meaning he was claiming venue. After all, the crime was committed in Citrus county, Lewan seen no reason for the trial to be moved.
The defense also objected to evidence and witnesses presented by prosecutors. Couey's filing said that corrections officers, who testified Couey confessed to the crime, should not have been allowed to testify. The officers came forward after Circuit Judge Richard Howard ruled Couey's confession to detectives was inadmissible at trial.
John Couey continued to maintain that he was innocent until his death in September 2009. Even though Couey confessed, while asking for Attorneys, he still insisted up until his death, that he was in fact innocent.
Describe whether justice was served in this case. Discuss alternative arguments for the prosecutor or defense attorney. Based on sentencing guidelines for your case, is the sentence fair? Discuss alternative sentencing options a judge may impose. Explain your reasoning.
John Couey died of anal cancer on September 30, 2009 in a hospital in Jacksonville, Florida. He did not get to be fulfill his sentences and be put to death by his peers as promised.
Was the sentence fair? Yes, although I do not ‘criminal justice’ wise agree with the way the Police wrongfully neglected to allow an Attorney to be represented to John Couey. This in turn allowed for our case to be misrepresented, and the confession to be inadmissible. When cases become high trial, people make mistakes. Look at any high-profile case and look at the mistakes made, and still being made. Look at the Casey Anthony and JonBonet Ramsey cases, these are high profile, and still people are wondering about them to this day.
Alternative sentencing options: Life without parole. If a judge feels that the criminal may not be a danger to others in the prison system, he may be offered life without parole.
Because of John Couey, Jessica’s Law was created. Jessica's Law is the informal name given to a 2005 Florida law, as well as laws in several other states, designed to protect potential victims and reduce a sexual offender's ability to re-offend. A version of Jessica's Law, known as the Jessica Lunsford Act, was introduced at the federal level in 2005 but was never enacted into law by Congress.
The name is also used by the media to designate all legislation and potential legislation in other states modeled after the Florida law. Forty-two states have introduced such legislation since Florida's law was passed.
Public outrage over this case spurred Florida officials to introduce this legislation. Among the key provisions of the law was classifying lewd or lascivious molestation on a person under the age of 12 as a life felony, and a mandatory minimum sentence of 25 years in prison and lifetime electronic monitoring of adults convicted of lewd or lascivious molestation against a victim less than 12 years old.
The statute also requires that if an offender is sentenced to a term of years, he or she must be given lifetime probation following the imprisonment. In Florida, another charge, capital sexual battery is defined as: A person 18 years of age or older who commits sexual battery upon, or in an attempt to commit sexual battery injures the sexual organs of, a person less than 12 years of age commits a capital felony. The charge carries a mandatory life sentence.
To date, this crime still haunts many of people, making them wonder and worry about their own children, and neighbors. What has this World come to?
http://www.foxnews.com/story/2007/08/24/judge-sentences-john-couey-to-death-for-murdering-jessica-lunsford.html August 24, 2007
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jessica%27s_Law Jessica’s Law (I know were not to use Wikipedia but this is on point describing the law)