This is a rush transcript from "Hannity & Colmes," August 24, 2007. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated

ALAN COLMES, CO-HOST: Welcome to "Hannity & Colmes." I'm Alan Colmes.

We get right to our top story tonight. John Couey was sentenced to death today in a Florida courtroom for the brutal murder of Jessica Lunsford:


HOWARD: It is hereby ordered and adjudged as to count one the indictment and for the murder of Jessica Marie Lunsford, this court sentences you,John Evander Couey, to death.

It is further ordered and adjudged as to count two the indictment, burglary of a dwelling with battery, this court sentences you, John Evander Couey, to life, consecutive to the sentence in count one.

It is further ordered and adjudged, as to count three the indictment, kidnapping, this court sentences you, John Evander Couey, to life consecutive to count one and to count two.

It is further ordered and adjudged as to count four of the indictment, sexual battery upon a person under the age of 12, this court sentences you, John Evander Couey, to life consecutive to counts one, two, and three.


COLMES: It's the end of an emotional story that in many ways woke America up to dangers of sex offenders and pedophiles living among us and among our children. Jessica Lunsford's father, Mark, joins us now on the phone from Florida.

Mark, thank you very, very much for being with us tonight.


COLMES: The nation's thoughts are with you and your family tonight, I wonder what your reaction is to the death sentence for John Evander Couey.

LUNSFORD: Well, you know, I felt it lift a lot off of me when the judge said that he would receive death.

COLMES: So you...

LUNSFORD: I'm sorry.

COLMES: Go ahead, sir.

LUNSFORD: And then I thought about the average day on death row in the state of Florida. It could be up to 13 years. That little girl lived nine years. She had no say about the day that she would die. Why should they have say? We need an express lane. States need to start making statements towards sex offenders and predators and our kids and make examples out of them.

COLMES: So you're saying that's not even enough that he would get the death penalty or the injection in 13 years, that he should have it right away. Some would say that the more he has to be able and face certain death or that even life in prison, knowing there was never any way out, is another just punishment and that that's all he gets to face, is those four walls the rest of his life. Would you have been upset had it been life in prison without parole?

LUNSFORD: I would have been very upset. As a parent, you know, you have to justify these kind of crimes against our children. They have to be justified. They have the strictest, most powerful punishment put to it.

Murder carries a death sentence. That's fine. But what about these children that survive? We need to toughen up. I mean, my daughter was due justice, and she received it because, well, the system played in her favor. That's just how it is. It was premeditated murder, and he got punished for it.

COLMES: In the courtroom, what was your sense of his reaction, his demeanor during the sentencing today?

LUNSFORD: I didn't see nothing out of him. I think I might even seen him smirk a little. I mean, I couldn't see his face. But I'd seen no emotions, no, nothing, nothing, nothing out of him.

COLMES: I'm guessing, if you had an opportunity to communicate directly with him, there would be a few things you'd want to say?

LUNSFORD: I wouldn't say a whole lot to him, but I would sure try to kill him.

COLMES: You would try to kill him?

LUNSFORD: Oh, most definitely. But, now, I can't do that in a courtroom. I spent two-and-a-half years telling people that we had to walk a line, we had to do things the right way. So I put myself in a position where I couldn't lash out. But to those parents that do, I wished you could have got more than you got from them.

COLMES: As we mentioned as we introduced this segment, this has, perhaps, brought a greater awareness of the problem of pedophilia. And if anything you can hope, perhaps take as some comfort, that Jessica's legacy is a greater awareness of people like John Evander Couey and that we almost be sensitive to that this exists in our society.

LUNSFORD: I think we need to pay closer attention to it. I don't think we do. I think we have over the last few years. But, I mean, you guys — you're in the news business. You knew before five years ago, before Carlie [Bruscia], they didn't pound on this stuff like they do now. But everybody has had enough. Your bosses, everybody.

SEAN HANNITY, CO-HOST: Hey, Mark, it's Sean Hannity. Welcome back to the program.

LUNSFORD: Sean, how are you doing?

HANNITY: As you know, we're very sorry what has happened to your daughter here, this brutality. It makes anybody sick that has a conscious and a soul. And I know that you have suffered a lot of pain, but I admire the fact that you have fought so strongly for justice for your daughter here. You said outside the courtroom today, you had a message for this guy. You said skip all the appeals and take your punishment. Can you go into more detail?

LUNSFORD: Well, you know, all he's done is whine and whimper about something either being wrong with him mentally, or because of drugs and alcohol, or because his sister didn't love him enough. And then I haven't seen it, but there's a tape out now where he just did an interview like yesterday or the other day where he was saying he was so sorry about the crime that he committed and laughed about it. He said that, well, at least there was some good that come out of this, Jessie's Law [aka Jessica's Law]. Nothing good comes out from a child dying, nothing good. That's what I've learned in the last two-and-a-half years.

HANNITY: And the brutality in which your little girl suffered here, as he kidnapped, raped her, buried her alive here. Defense experts were arguing that he was impaired, suffering from long-standing mental illness, was a chronic drug and alcohol abuser, as you said, abused by the boyfriend and his mother. Isn't this all part of this excuse-making that we make for the most evil, you know, despicable behavior?

LUNSFORD: It is. It is. And that's the kind of job that the defense attorneys take and get paid to do. If they can live with that, it's OK with me. Myself, I don't think I'd want to be a defense attorney.

HANNITY: You know, I go over this guy's rap sheet. Here you have a guy, you know, a criminal record that includes 24 burglary arrests, carrying a concealed weapon in one case, indecent exposure. In one case, he was arrested and charged for fondling a girl under 16 years of age. In another case prior to this, he was accused of grabbing a girl in her bedroom, placing his hand over her mouth, and kissing her.


HANNITY: And we don't punish these guys, 24 counts. And if he had had justice in the past, I assume in the back of your mind you're thinking this might have been prevented?

LUNSFORD: I do. And just think, the worst part, this is only one of thousands, one of thousands of people that commit these kind of crimes. There's right at 150,000 absconded sex offenders that act just as bad as he does or worse, and we don't know where they're at. In the United States. U.S. marshals are doing everything they can, the FBI is. But the federal government ain't giving up the money...


LUNSFORD: ... which rightfully goes to the Adam Walsh Child Safety Act.

HANNITY: You know, I don't know how — I really admired you, and you've been on the program with us before, because you've been so strong, but this has got to be tough here. And, you know, I'm a Christian, and I know my faith teaches me to forgive. I don't think I could. I don't know how anybody can forgive somebody that is that brutal to a little girl.

LUNSFORD: I'll tell you, Sean. The only thing that I can ask from God is for him to forgive me, because I will never forgive what that man did to my daughter ever.

HANNITY: I missed what you said there. You broke up on me. What did you say?

LUNSFORD: I said that I have to ask God to forgive me, because I'm never going to forgive John Evander Couey for what he did to my daughter.

COLMES: Mark, we thank you so much for being with us tonight and appreciate your time coming on our show, the many times you've come and talked to us about this and helped to heighten awareness about the tragedy you suffered. Thank you, sir, very much for being with us.

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