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The Jessica Lunsford Case

Background and Latest Developments

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Nine-year-old Jessica Lunsford disappeared from her bedroom at her grandparents' home in the middle of the night Feb. 23, 2005. A massive search was launched for the missing girl that drew the attention of national television networks over the following three weeks.

Police found the body of Jessica Lunsford buried in a shallow grave under the back porch of a mobile home less than 150 yards from her home on March 18, 2005, a day after a convicted sex offender told authorities that he had killed the nine-year-old.

Latest Developments

Jessica Lunsford's Killer Dies in Prison
Sept. 30, 2009
The man who kidnapped, raped and murdered 9-year-old Jessica Lunsford and buried her alive behind his sister's trailer, has died on death row of natural causes. John Evander Couey died at a Jacksonville hospital after a lengthy illness.

Previous Developments

John Evander Couey Gets Death Penalty
Aug. 24, 2007
A repeat sex offender whose crimes against nine-year-old Jessica Lunsford led to new, tougher laws across the nation, was sentenced to death today in a Florida court.

Judge: John Evander Couey Not Retarded
Aug. 7, 2007
John Evander Couey is not retarded and is eligible for the death penalty, a Florida judge has ruled. Official sentencing is scheduled for Friday for the 48-year-old repeat sex offender.

Couey Sentencing Delayed Again
July 17, 2007
John Evander Couey will not know until August 10 if he will face the death penalty or life in prison, as a Florida judge decides if Couey is mentally retarded or not.

John Evander Couey Still Not Sentenced
June 22, 2007
Three months after a jury recommended the death sentence, John EvanderCouey has yet to be sentenced and is not scheduled back in court for a hearing until July 17.

Jury Recommends Death for John Evander Couey
Mar. 14, 2007
A jury of his peers took less than one hour today to recommend a death sentence for John Evander Couey for the kidnapping, rape and murder of Jessica Marie Lunsford.

Justice for Jessica: Couey Found Guilty
Mar. 7, 2007
A jury in Miami deliberated for almost four hours today before returning guilty verdicts in all charges against John Evander Couey in the kidnapping, rape and murder of Jessica Lunsford.

Closing Arguments Set in Lunsford Trial
Mar. 6, 2007
Closing arguments are scheduled in the murder trial of John Evander Couey after the defense suddenly rested its case after calling only one witness.

Jury Selection Winds Down in Couey Trial
Feb. 23, 2007
The first round of jury selection in the Miami murder trial of John Evander Couey ended last week with 71 potential jurors of 288 advancing to the second round of questioning, expected to last only two days.

Jury Selection Begins
Feb. 12, 2007
Almost two years after nine-year-old Jessica Lunsford was kidnapped, raped, murdered and buried alive, jury selection is scheduled to begin today.

Judge Tosses More Evidence
Jan. 8, 2007
A Florida judge has thrown out more statements made to law enforcement officer by John Evander Couey while being questioned about an unrelated Orlando case.

Jessica Lunsford Trial Moved to Miami
Sept. 14, 2006
Florida will try again to find an impartial jury for the trial of John Evander Couey, this time in Miami.

Judge Halts Couey Jury Selection
June 13, 2006
After three days of questioning potential jurors in the murder trial of John Evander Couey, a Florida judge halted the procedure and dismissed the remaining jurors, because he said an impartial panel could not be found in Lake County.

Jury Selection Begins
July 10, 2006
Most of the potential jurors questioned during the first day of jury selection in the trial of John Evander Coueysaid they had heard of the case, but knew few details about Couey and why he came to be charged.

Confession Tossed in Jessica Lunsford Case
July 2, 2006
A Florida judge has ruled that John Evander Couey's confession to investigators cannot be used as evidence in his trial, but the discovery of her body and a later jailhouse confession can be used.

John Evander Couey Wants Confession Tossed
May 19, 2006
Attorneys for John Evander Couey filed motions to suppress his confession because they said he was denied access to a lawyer.

Judge Grants Change of Venue for Couey Trial
Apr. 21, 2006
A Florida judge has granted the request from John Evander Couey's attorneys to move to another county his trial for the kidnapping, rape and murder of Jessica Lunsford. Prosecutors did not contest the motion.

Cops Came Close to Finding Jessica Lunsford
June 23, 2005
The confession of John Evander Couey revealed that Jessica Lunsford was still alive in a closet when police came to the door to question her Homosassa, Florida neighbors about her disappearance.

Jessica Lunsford Was Raped, Buried Alive
April 20, 2005
Documents released by state prosecutors show that nine-year-old Jessica Lunsford was raped and buried alive in two plastic garbage bags with her hands tied with speaker wire.

John Evander Couey Charged in Jessica's Death
March 23, 2005
A convicted sex offender apparently kidnapped Jessica Lunsford from her bedroom and held her bound and gagged for at least two days 100 yards from her home while police, search dogs and volunteers swarmed the neighborhood.

Police Find Jessica Lunsford's Shallow Grave
March 18, 2005
Police found the body of Jessica Lunsford buried in a shallow grave under the back porch of a mobile home less than 150 years from her home.

Sex Offender Questioned in Jessica Lunsford Case
March 17, 2005
Rather than searching for Jessica Lunsford, authorities were investigating a registered sex offender who lived nearby and left the area shortly after Jessica vanished.

Police Puzzled Over Disappearance of Jessica Lunsford
March 7, 2005
Authorities in Homosassa, Florida have very few, if any, clues in the disappearance of Jessica Marie Lunsford 10 days after she vanished from her bedroom.

9-Year-Old Jessica Lunsford Still Missing
Feb. 28, 2005
More than 500 volunteers searching in the rain and wind and hundreds of tips received by authorities in the past four days have yet to turn up any clues in the disappearance of Jessica Lunsford of Homosassa, Florida.

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