From Whispers to Roars

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Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Here we go again....

Lunsford murder jury selection begins

Posted February 13 2007

MIAMI · 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)


AMBER Alert for Deidre Jeanne Michuda Abducted by Sex Offender MN.

AMBER Alert issued for teen girl, her sex-offender father

An AMBER Alert was issued Monday night for a 14-year-old girl from Inver Grove Heights who reportedly was abducted by her father, a known sex offender.

Deidre Jeanne Michuda was believed to have been abducted by Stephen Michuda, 34, sometime after school late Monday afternoon. Stephen Michuda does not have custody of his daughter and is prohibited from having unsupervised contact with her, authorities said.

Inver Grove Heights police responded to a 6:15 p.m. call to a residence in the 7800 block of Chandler Lane, where the girl lives with her mother and where Stephen Michuda was living temporarily. The girl's mother told police Stephen Michuda had taken his daughter sometime between 2:45 and 3:50 p.m.

Authorities do not know whether the child went willingly with her father or was taken by force. His permanent residence was not known.

Deidre was last seen wearing a dark blue sweatshirt with an embroidered "JMS Marching Band" logo and blue or black jeans, and was carrying a green backpack. She is biracial (white and Asian), about 5 feet 2 inches tall, weighs about 110 pounds, has dark brown eyes and brown hair reaching the middle of her back.

Stephen Michuda drives a green 1998 Chevy Venture minivan, with Minnesota license plates GUB-014. The van has a dent in its driver's-side door, authorities said.

Stephen Michuda is described as white, with blue eyes and brown hair, shaved close to the scalp, and a goatee. He is about 5 feet 7 inches tall, weighs 180 pounds and often wears a green U.S. Army jacket.

Anyone with information about the pair's whereabouts is urged to call 911

Under an AMBER Alert, the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension releases information about suspected kidnappings of children 17 years old or younger to the news media, law enforcement agencies and businesses.

—Tad Vezner Twin (Link to original article is in the highlighted title)

Poster Available at NCMEC


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