LECANTO, Fla. – The man accused of kidnapping, sexually assaulting and killing 9-year-old Jessica Marie Lunsford (search) was denied bond Tuesday on murder and other charges, beginning a legal process that the girl's father wants to see end with a death sentence.
John Evander Couey (search), 46, a convicted sex offender who sheriff's officials say confessed to taking Jessica from her home and killing her, made a first appearance on charges of capital murder, battery, kidnapping and sexual battery on a child under the age of 12.
"This is an infamous case here," Citrus County (search) Judge Mark Yerman told Couey during the brief hearing. "The acts you are accused of and the crimes you confessed to are really beyond words."
Couey, looking tired, downtrodden and with his hands and feet heavily shackled, answered a few questions, telling the judge that he needed an attorney assigned to him and that he had no assets.
"I just want him to die," Jessica's father, Mark Lunsford, said Monday night on CNN's "Larry King Live."
Couey was arrested in Georgia last week, then brought back to Florida and booked Sunday on a probation violation and failure to register his change of address as required as a sex offender. He was already being held without bond on the sex offender charge.
The additional charges were levied against him on Monday. Citrus County Sheriff Jeff Dawsy said he will urge prosecutors to seek the death penalty.
Officials said Couey confessed to kidnapping and killing Jessica, a third grader who was last seen the night of Feb. 23 when she went to bed after attending church.
Medical examiners said she was sexually assaulted and died of asphyxiation. Jessica's body was found early Saturday behind a house about 150 yards from her home, more than three weeks after she disappeared from her bedroom.
Couey entered the Lunsford house through an unlocked door and later sexually assaulted her, police said. Detectives might never know how long Jessica was held before she was killed since Couey was under the influence of drugs, officials said.
Lunsford, Jessica's father, said he felt guilty that he was not at home that night. "We have to save our children from people like this," Lunsford said. "It's time to change some of our laws."
Lunsford said he will campaign to get stricter penalties and laws regarding registering sex offenders. Lunsford added that not everyone has a computer to look up list of offenders and the lists should be readily available for all to see.
"They should be tagged, they should be branded," Lunsford said of sex offenders.
Gov. Jeb Bush said earlier that he was wary about such proposals. "We should be cautious about doing something that would expand the net so wide as to not accomplish the desired effect and get into a problem," Bush said.