March 15, 2007
He was arrested here in Augusta, and Wednesday a jury recommended he be sentenced to die for the kidnapping, rape and murder of a little girl...a child who wasn't even safe in her own bedroom.
John Couey seemed to take little notice of the jury's recommendation.
"A majority of the jury by a vote of 10 to 2 advise to the court that it impose the death penalty on John Couey for the death of Jessica Marie Lunsford," the clerk read.
The decision took only an hour, and it was welcome news to Jessica's father.
"It will never compare to the misery that they cause their victims. It will never equal out, but it is justice," Mark Lunsford said.
Couey was found guilty last week of taking the nine-year-old from her bed, raping her and then burying her alive.
Couey's defense team tried to save his life. They argued he is mentally disabled and suffers from chronic illness.
The jury didn't buy it.
"We made sure to follow the law in every decision that we took," said juror Thais Prado.
Now Couey is a step closer to paying the ultimate price for his crimes.
A judge will make the final decision, and he's not bound to the jury's recommendation. But Florida state law mandates that he give it what they call "great weight."