As far as I’m concerned just give him to the girls father.
A Florida judge this afternoon sentenced sex offender John Evander Couey to die for the brutal 2005 rape and murder of 9-year-old Jessica Lunsford.
“Sentencing is about a final accounting, it is a closure, it is a reckoning,” Circuit Judge Richard Howard said at a sentencing hearing this afternoon in which he read a description of the crime so graphic that he had to stop more than once to compose himself.
Howard listed a number of aggravating factors — including Couey’s previous sexual assault conviction, the girl’s young age and the heinousness of the crime — as reasons for his decision.
“He caused a slow, suffering, cautious death, Jessica was placed not in one, but two trash bags,” Howard said. “She was alive when he started to shovel the dirt over her body.”
Howard said the facts of the crime “vastly outweighed” mitigating arguments put forward by Couey’s attorneys in an effort to stave off capital punishment — particularly questions raised about Couey’s mental capacity.
“He saw the victim playing in her yard and planned the burglary,” Howard said. “He hid her in the closet for days. When he became fearful of the policemen, he dug a hole.”
The Miami jury that convicted Couey in March had recommended the death sentence by a 10-2 vote, but under Florida state law Howard had the final word regarding capital punishment.
Couey was convicted of kidnapping the girl from her bedroom, sexually assaulting her and later burying her alive in garbage bags. Howard described dirt under the girl’s fingernails and holes poked in a trash bag as evidence of her effort to free herself from a foot-deep hole. Her wrists were bound with speaker wire and Howard said she may have been alive for up to five minutes before she suffocated.
A massive three-week search for the third-grader ended with the discovery of her body in the hole outside the trailer where Couey lived — just 150 yards from her own home.