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Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Here we go again....

Lunsford murder jury selection begins

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Posted February 13 2007

MIAMI ยท Jury selection began Monday after a judge denied another effort by defense lawyers to delay the trial of a convicted sex offender accused of the 2005 abduction and murder of 9-year-old Jessica Lunsford, who died after she was buried alive while searchers looked for her.

"The fact of the matter is, this case is going forward," said Circuit Judge Richard Howard, who denied a request for a delay by attorneys for defendant John Evander Couey.

A few minutes later, Howard, prosecutors and defense attorneys began questioning prospective jurors about their knowledge of the heavily publicized case. Publicity forced the trial to be moved from Citrus County, where the crime occurred, to Miami.

Jury selection is expected to consume much of the week and the final panel of 12 jurors and six alternates will be sequestered in an effort to limit anything they might hear or read about the case. News organizations are barred from showing the faces of jurors or reporting their names.

Couey, 48, is charged with first-degree murder, kidnapping, sexual battery on a child younger than 12 and burglary. He faces death if convicted, with the trial expected to take up to four weeks.

Couey attorney Dan Lewan has made several efforts to delay the trial and said again Monday that the defense team has not had adequate time to go through evidence released by prosecutors a month ago. Much of that evidence focuses on testimony by jail guards about incriminating statements Couey allegedly made.

Howard, who is a Citrus County judge, scheduled a hearing today on a defense motion to suppress the guards' testimony, with several of the potential trial witnesses expected to testify. Howard said there would be no jury selection today because the hearing could take several hours.


(Direct Link to Original Article in Title)

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