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His cruelty sways a jury

The Couey Case

What happened in Miami on Wednesday:

By a 10-2 vote, the jury recommended that John Couey be sentenced to death.

The state and defense spent Tuesday and Wednesday presenting evidence, testimony and argument in the trial's penalty phase.

The jury deliberated about an hour and 15 minutes.

Circuit Judge Ric Howard must give the advisory verdict "great weight" when he sentences Couey.

Word of the day


According to Assistant State Attorney Ric Ridgway, it's the only word that accurately describes what John Couey did to Jessica Lunsford.

From the defense: "It's a life worth saving," Assistant Public Defender Alan Fanter said of his client.

"Do we as a society want to throw away the life of someone who is clearly mentally ill? Life and society weren't fair to Mr. Couey."

The balance

The jury weighed the aggravating and mitigating circumstances of the case.

The aggravators, according to the state:

-Couey has been convicted of a prior violent felony. (The burglary with battery he committed in this case counts.)

-The murder was committed during the course of another felony (in this case, kidnapping).

-The murder was committed to avoid arrest.

-The victim was younger than 12.

-The killing was cold, calculated and premeditated.

-The killing was heinous, atrocious and cruel.

The mitigators, according to the defense:

Couey's abusive childhood, his mental dullness, his symptoms of psychosis.

Heading back to Inverness

The jury's service is finished. The lawyers, judge and other officials will have a status conference in the case at 9 a.m. March 22 at the Citrus County Courthouse. For a full report, see 1A