Couey's Confession Is Released

This is a partial transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," June 30, 2005, that has been edited for clarity.

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TONY SNOW, GUEST HOST: There is no question authorities made mistakes in the Jessica Lunsford (search) investigation, and did not want you to know about it. "The Factor" has put tremendous pressure on them to come clean.

Well, tonight, the man charged with Jessica's murder, John Couey (search), in his own words, his taped confession, released to the public. Warning, this is disturbing stuff.


JOHN COUEY: I got high on drugs. I went over there and took her out of the house... I walked back into her room.

INVESTIGATOR: What did you say to her?

COUEY: I just told her to come with me and be quiet.

INVESTIGATOR: She walked out of the house with you?

COUEY: Yes, she walked out... and I sexually assaulted her.

INVESTIGATOR: What happened next?

COUEY: I went out there one night and dug a hole and put her in it and buried her.

INVESTIGATOR: Was she dead already?

COUEY: No, she was still alive. I buried her alive, she suffered. I don't know why I did it.

INVESTIGATOR: Listen to me, listen to me. If you could say something to Jessica right now, what would it be?

COUEY: I'm so sorry, I'm so sorry.


SNOW: Now there's concern that the confession will be thrown out because investigators kept questioning Couey, even after he asked for a lawyer.


COUEY: I just want to talk to a lawyer.

I want a lawyer here present. I want to talk to a lawyer cause I mean... if people trying to accuse me of something I didn't do. I didn't do it. I ain't you know...


SNOW: Joining us now from Orlando, talk show host Pat Campbell. And from Davey, Florida attorney Herb Cohen, who represents Jessica's father, Mark Lunsford.

Pat, I want to begin with you. Everybody has a pretty obvious question, when you look at this case, which is why on earth was it possible for detectives to go ahead questioning this guy without giving him a lawyer? I mean, anybody who watches a cop show for five minutes on TV knows better than to do that.

PAT CAMPBELL, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Well, absolutely. This thing has been so bungled, and Herb can give you a lot of the details, and a lot of that's going to come out in the civil suit later on as well. But they didn't follow basic police protocol.

Anybody who's watched "1 Adam 12" knows that once you've got somebody arrested, you read them their Miranda rights (search). When he requested the attorney, one should have been provided. However, they continued questioning the next day.

Even the St. Petersburg Times, which has acted as nothing but an apologist for Brad King's office, is now forced to admit, because they can no longer defend the indefensible, that mistakes were made.

And you know, people have been wondering, Bill's been wondering out loud on his program why the refusal by Brad King's office to prosecute the occupants of the mobile home.

Well now it's all coming together, like the pieces of a puzzle, because Brad King, because of the bungled police work at the start of this case, is actually put in the unfortunate situation where he is going to be forced to rely on the testimony of these three occupants to help him convict John Couey. And it is outrageous.

SNOW: You're talking about three occupants of the house where John Couey was staying. In fact, he says he kept Jessica Lunsford there.

CAMPBELL: Well, you know, Tony, that's a great thing you brought up. This CD that's been released of John Couey's audio, I've requested a copy. I have not received mine yet, what a big surprise.

But the one piece of audio I want to hear is what he told police in Augusta, Georgia when he was arrested. I have heard through reliable sources that Couey on the tape tells law enforcement that, you know what, I had Jessica alive in my room with the cops stopped by the trailer the first time.

I want to hear that. I want to know what Brad King's motives are right now for releasing this audio when he did, yesterday. Is he trying to discredit Couey? Couey's credibility?

And Brad King, I'm so confused about this, Tony, because on one hand he tells us John Couey's not to be believed because his time line, he's all over the place. One time he says he kept her alive for six days. Another for two. Another for three days.

So we're not to believe Couey. He's got a credibility issue. Yet when it comes to certain things, for example, like when Couey tells law enforcement that oh gee, the other people in the mobile home, they didn't know that I had Jessica there, we're supposed to believe him then? You can't have it both ways.

SNOW: No, you can't.

Mr. Cohen, let me turn to you for a second. Let's go back to what Pat was just talking about, which is the allegation that Jessica Lunsford was alive inside that mobile home when police first knocked on the door. Does your client, does Mr. Lunsford, believe that there's a possibility that his daughter really was alive when cops came to the door?

HERB COHEN, CLIENT'S 9-YEAR OLD DAUGHTER WAS MURDERED: Oh, sure. He believes that there's a lot of basis to believe that. We've just gotten the autopsy report. We haven't had it examined yet or looked at it. We told Bill the last time we have a few experts, well-known people, Dr. Henry Lee, Dr. Cyril Wecht, who volunteered to come on board, going to work with us.

We believe she was alive. And I think the statements that Couey made confirm that. And I got copies of those from Mr. Magrino. I haven't gotten a chance to pick them apart. I just got them today. But they answer that and they go to that.

SNOW: In other words, what you're saying is if the police had done their job right, and I hate to second guess at this juncture, but if they had done their job right, she might still be alive?

COHEN: That's a possibility. Look, Tony, there is, and I have the notes here, National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. It's a 200- page federal document. Wouldn't you think with all the statutes in place that every police chief and every sheriff's department would have a copy of this and implement it and sit down with their officers and say here's the standard operation procedure, here's the SLP, here's what we follow, here's how I follow it.

What's interesting is I've started to canvas some of the volunteers. And I've got a note this past week from a volunteer who said when they were brought in, the first day and the second day, they were confused because they thought as volunteers they were going to go out past the neighborhood, because law enforcement should be the ones to stay in the neighborhood.

They thought they'd trample on evidence. But yet, they went to the trailer first. And there were people on horseback on the first day, that were riding back and forth, trampling on evidence.

SNOW: OK. Now we've been talking about Brad King, the prosecutor in this case. But apparently you're already preparing for a civil trial. That seems to indicate to me that you think there's a pretty good chance, that as a matter of fact Mr. Couey may walk, because of the problems in the testimony. Are you worried about that? Are you afraid that this, in fact, is simply all — his confession's going to get tossed out and you're going to be left with nothing?

COHEN: I want to answer two things you said. I'm a former prosecutor and a criminal defense attorney. I'm not here to talk about a possible civil case. That's not what Mark and I are looking at.

Right now, in answer to the second part of your question, what we're looking at, Tony, is we want to make sure that this individual, Couey, is convicted and rightfully executed the way he should be. There's no question whether the statement stays in or not, that he's responsible for kidnapping this girl, raping this girl, and killing this girl. So that's our concern.

SNOW: Pat, a final question for you. How furious are people now getting at the police and prosecutors in this case?

CAMPBELL: Well, there's a tremendous amount of frustration down here as you might imagine, Tony. A lot of the criticism seems to be pointed at Sheriff Dawsy's office right now, the way the whole thing was handled. It appears in retrospect that Brad King's hand was almost forced because of the way this was mishandled.

I tell you, if John Couey gets anything less than the death penalty out here, I mean, people are just going to blow a gasket.

SNOW: All right, gentlemen, thank you so much. O'Reilly is going to stay on this case, you can be sure of that.

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