The Jessica Lunsford tragedy
By JIM ROSS
Published March 8, 2007
-Feb. 24, 2005: Jessica is reported missing.
-March 18: Couey confesses and is arrested in Georgia.
-March 19: Jessica's body is recovered.
-June 30, 2006: Judge says Couey's confession to law officers is inadmissible because he was denied a lawyer.
-July 2006: Efforts to seat a jury in Lake County fail; too many people know about the case.
-Feb. 12, 2007: Jury selection begins in Miami.
-March 1: State begins presenting its case.
-Wednesday: Jury finds Couey guilty.
Source: Times files
-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 in Inverness.
[Last modified March 8, 2007, 06:36:30]
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