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  1. #1
    katiemh Guest

    Jessica Lunsford's Murderer's Confession Thrown Out

    http://www.cnn.com/2005/LAW/06/30/couey.case/

    (CNN) -- A Florida man's confession that he kidnapped, raped and buried alive a 9-year-old girl may never be heard by a jury because, according to documents, he previously asked for a lawyer but was not given one.

    John Couey, accused of murder in the death of Jessica Lunsford, asked for an attorney on March 17, the day before he confessed, according to the transcript of his questioning released by police.

    At the time of his request, Couey was maintaining he had nothing to do with the girl's disappearance. His request came after Citrus County, Florida, detectives asked him if he would take a lie detector test.

    The transcript reads:

    Couey: "I want a lawyer here present. I want to talk to a lawyer 'cause, I mean ... if people trying to accuse something I didn't do. I didn't do it."

    Detective: "OK. Hang on, hang on, hang on, hang on. ... So if we were to do a lie detector test, you'd want to get a lawyer for that ?"

    Couey: "I want to talk to a lawyer first."

    But instead of providing an attorney, the questioning continued and, according to the transcripts, Couey continued answering questions without mentioning his request for an attorney again.

    The next day, March 18, Couey agreed to take a polygraph, after which he confessed, sources said. According to the transcripts, his Miranda rights were read to him on several occasions over a three-day period.

    The issue will undoubtedly be litigated at pretrial hearings, and is a problem for the prosecution, according to experts consulted by CNN.

    "Based on the fact that he clearly invoked his right to counsel at least three times, there may be a problem," said Jeffrey Weiner, a past president of the Criminal Defense Lawyers Association.

    "...It seems to me the law enforcement officials did not scrupulously honor his invocation of his right to counsel and as a result, his statement might be not admissible."

    Several other lawyers contacted by CNN echoed his analysis.

    Citrus County Sheriff Jeff Dawsy, who led the search for Jessica Lunsford, said through a spokesman that "the case is rock solid" and was built professionally and thoroughly.

    "Although there are some amateurs questioning the credibility of our case against Couey and the confession, when this case is said and done, Couey will be convicted," he said.

    Another law enforcement source involved in the case told CNN that even if Couey's confession is suppressed by the court, there is sufficient evidence to prosecute.

    Couey confessed after he took the lie detector test March 18, sources said.

    He called investigators back into the room because, according to the sources, he told them he knew he failed the test, and was apologetic for not being honest with detectives the day before.

    He then gave a lengthy statement after having his Miranda rights read to him again, according to the transcripts. He did not request an attorney after being asked if he understood his right to have one present and to refuse to answer any questions, the transcripts show.

  2. #2
    Terminator's Avatar
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  3. #3
    katiemh Guest
    They haven't specifically said that it has been thrown out yet. It's just what the DA is hoping for. I guess it's the weakest link right now.

    I saw this on another forum (a non-LE forum) and someone responded saying "hasn't everyone at least seen Law & Order to know that once a lawyer is requested nothing further is done?" Um, why does everyone think just because they say they want a lawyer we have to stop everything? Ignorance.

  4. #4
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    I dunno...it seems to me that he was saying that he would want a lawyer before the poly...not that he wanted a lawyer right then and there, and that he would answer no more questions. I.E. He can stop the questioning at any time, and he stated that he would halt the interrogation if and when it reached the point of him taking a poly. It sounded like he wasn't at that point and consequently chose to answer additional questions.

    Miranda doesn't mean that just because someone says the word "lawyer" everything needs to halt, and there is sufficient case law that establishes this. Could the investigators handled it just a little bit differently as far as clarifying exactly what he meant? Sure.

    My question is why the guy confessed, then plead not guilty?
    "If anything worthwhile comes of this tragedy, it should be the realization by every citizen that often the only thing that stands between them and losing everything they hold dear... is the man wearing a badge." -- Ronald Reagan, in the wake of the deaths of 4 CHP troopers in the Newhall Incident, 1970

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  5. #5
    TXCharlie's Avatar
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    Hopefully there are no "Fruits of the Poison Tree" that also get thrown out, if that happens... Do you think those detectives better come up with some plans quick to make an Inevitable Discovery case for all their evidence that is at risk?
    Last edited by TXCharlie; 07-02-06 at 11:36 PM.

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  6. #6
    katiemh Guest
    Quote Originally Posted by 121Traffic
    I dunno...it seems to me that he was saying that he would want a lawyer before the poly...not that he wanted a lawyer right then and there, and that he would answer no more questions. I.E. He can stop the questioning at any time, and he stated that he would halt the interrogation if and when it reached the point of him taking a poly. It sounded like he wasn't at that point and consequently chose to answer additional questions.

    I agree. I originally saw this posted on another board about 3 days ago. Someone posted the Law & Order comment which prompted me to want to argue the whole damn lawyer/confession topic and now I've started a fight on another forum with a bunch of civilians that probably think I'm a receptionist and talking out of my ass.
    Last edited by katiemh; 07-02-06 at 11:50 PM.

  7. #7
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    Uhhh, hey gang, his confession WAS thrown out on Friday.

    From Fox News, Friday, June 30, 2006
    "Judge Tosses Confession of Suspected Jessica Lunsford Killer"

    http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,201678,00.html

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  8. #8
    katiemh Guest
    Damn. Oh well. He'll still be convicted.


    Silly me... I did a search for articles and the CNN was the first one that pulled up, I saw July 1st... missed the whole 2005 part.
    Last edited by katiemh; 07-02-06 at 11:47 PM.

  9. #9
    TXCharlie's Avatar
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    Howard agreed with prosecutors, however, that investigators would have found Jessica's body anyway.
    Good... that's the kind of stuff I was worried about

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  10. #10
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    If the only evidence they have is his confession, then it's a weak case anyway.
    The virtue of spirit has no need for thanks or approval. Only the certain conviction that what has been done is right. -Jor El, as played by Marlon Brando

  11. #11
    katiemh Guest
    Quote Originally Posted by Centurion44
    If the only evidence they have is his confession, then it's a weak case anyway.

    I know for certain they have a DNA hit also because he was on file from a previous sex offense(s).

  12. #12
    TXCharlie's Avatar
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    What worried me about the confession getting thrown out was him leading them to the body (unless I have this case confused with another)... And if the discovery of the body gets thrown out, there goes all your forensic evidence with it, including DNA.

    But thankfully that doesn't appear to be the case

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