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Florida Circuit Court Judge Ric Howard will hear argument at a pre-sentencing hearing from John Couey’s attorney today. Couey was found guilty of kidnapping, raping and murdering 9-year-old Jessica Lunsford in February 2005. “The jury voted 10-2 to recommend the death penalty” as noted in this CNN story by Kim Segal. Couey’s attorney will try to persuade the judge that Couey is mentally incompetent, sparring him from the death penalty. Jessica’s Lunsford father, Mark Lunsford will also testify, bringing him face to face with his daughter’s murderer. The judge will formally sentence Couey next month. Court TV has several articles following the Couey trial and hearing as well.

Ohio legislators passed Bill 18 into law last week with the help of a once sexually abused victim. The bill became known as “Jennifer’s Law,” named after the minor who was sexually abused by her stepfather 6 ½ years ago. After revealing the abuse to her mother, who notified police, her stepfather was charged with felony sex crimes. Deborah Dixon with Local 12 news in Ohio reports that he “pleaded guilty to misdemeanors, paid a fine, was put on probation, then got his record expunged.” Jennifer’s Law will prohibit the removal of all criminal records of sex crimes against children under 18 in the state of Ohio. The stepfather is now living free of a criminal record with his wife and three small children, all of which are girls.

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The real question with respect to Couey is how any juror could vote not to sentence Couey to death on these facts. For certain cases, and this is one of them, death should be mandatory.

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