Murder suspect seeks delay of trial in Jessica Lunsford case


Published: Sunday, January 21, 2007 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, January 20, 2007 at 11:44 p.m.

INVERNESS — Attorneys for a man accused of kidnapping, raping and burying alive a 9-year-old girl have asked that his murder trial be delayed because the prosecution has added seven new witnesses, including a guard who says the suspect gave details of the slaying.

John Couey's attorneys say his Feb. 12 trial for the March 2005 slaying of Jessica Lunsford should be delayed so they can have more time to question the witnesses.

Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty in the trial, which has been moved from Citrus County to Miami because of the massive media attention the slaying received.

The witnesses were added to the prosecutors' list earlier this month.

Guard John Read told investigators that Couey told him he buried Jessica outside the bedroom of the trailer where he stayed with others, and then cleaned his room with bleach to get rid of evidence. Read said Couey told him he kept Jessica in a closet when other people were in the home.

Read, according to the transcript, said: "She was there for a couple two, three days, um they basically hung out, eat pizza almost like a couple of love birds sitting around the bedroom, except she's 9."

It is unknown when Circuit Judge Ric Howard might rule on the request.

He has already thrown out a confession Couey made to investigators because they kept questioning him even after he asked for an attorney.

Couey has pleaded not guilty to charges of first-degree murder, sexual battery on a child, kidnapping and burglary.

Authorities found the girl's body after Couey told them where to look near her Homosassa home in Central Florida. She had been missing for about a month.

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