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What's next for Couey

Early Edition: A look at the next steps following the guilty verdict.

By Jim Ross
Published March 7, 2007


A look at the next steps in the John Couey case.

  • The judge will hear additional testimony about Couey's mental state. The defense says he's mentally retarded and not eligible for the death penalty; the state says he's not retarded and is eligible for the death penalty.
  • The jury will return for the penalty phase of the trial. That is scheduled to begin Tuesday. Only two sentences are possible: life in prison or execution.
  • The state must prove aggravating factors about the crime - for example, that the crime was especially heinous, atrocious and cruel - that make Couey eligible for death.
  • The defense will present mitigating evidence - such as abuse he suffered as a child - in hopes of saving his life.
  • The jury will vote and provide a sentencing recommendation to the judge. The vote need not be unanimous. That recommendation will mark the end of the jury's service.
  • The law requires the judge to give the recommendation "great weight." The ultimate decision will be his; however, if the jury recommends life, the odds of a death sentence withstanding appeal would be extremely slim.
  • Actual sentencing will come later, probably back in Inverness.

[Last modified March 7, 2007, 16:51:38]

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