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John Couey Eligible for Death Penalty in Jessica Lunsford Murder After Judge Rules Him Mentally Competent

A judge has cleared the way for the man convicted of kidnapping and raping 9-year-old Jessica Lunsford to be sentenced to death.

The judge says John Evander Couey is not mentally retarded and is eligible for the death penalty.

Couey's attorneys argued that their client suffered lifelong mental abuse and possessed a below normal IQ. A 2002 U.S. Supreme Court ruling prohibits the execution of mentally retarded people.

But Circuit Judge Ric Howard ruled the most credible intelligence exam rated Couey's IQ at 78. That's slightly above the 70 level generally considered retarded.