INVERNESS, Fla. – Defense attorneys sought Friday to suppress the confession of the convicted sex offender charged with kidnapping, raping and killing 9-year-Jessica Lunsford, arguing the man repeatedly asked for a lawyer but never got one.
John Evander Couey, 47, spoke freely with Citrus County Sheriff's detectives about his drug use, criminal history and home life for the first half of the two-hour interview played in court. However, after repeatedly maintaining his innocence, Couey told investigators he wanted to speak with an attorney.
"I want a lawyer here present, because you're trying to accuse me of something I didn't do," Couey says on the recording.
He received no attorney, and later confessed to abducting Jessica on Feb. 23, 2005, carrying her 150 yards to a mobile home he shared with the other adults, raping her and then burying her alive in the yard. Investigators dug up the body where Couey told them it would be.
Prosecutors argued Friday that police would've found the girl's body anyway. They had zeroed in on registered sex offenders in the area, and a shovel beside a pile of disturbed earth in the mobile home yard was suspicious enough to investigate.
"I'm confident from the information we received and the observation of the dirt and shovel that we would've found the body," Citrus County Sheriff's Sgt. Tim Martin testified.
Couey was interviewed in Georgia, telling investigators he fled because his sister kicked him out of the mobile home after police began looking into him. He said his sister feared losing her young daughter if authorities knew she was living with a sex offender.
Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty for Couey, who has pleaded not guilty to charges of premeditated murder, burglary, kidnapping and sexual battery.
Also Friday, Circuit Judge Ric Howard ruled Couey would be tried in Citrus County but judged by a jury pulled from Lake County. Howard had said that a fair jury could not be chosen among Citrus County residents because of pervasive media coverage about the case.
Jury selection is expected to start July 10 in Tavares.
It was not clear whether Howard would rule Friday on squashing Couey's confession.