Judge Denies Delay as Lunsford Murder Jury Selection Begins

(AP Photo/Stephen J. Coddington, pool)
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MIAMI (AP) - A judge has denied another effort by defense lawyers to delay the trial of a convicted sex offender charged with the 2005 abduction and murder of 9-year-old Jessica Lunsford.

Monday in Miami, a judge denied the request for a delay by attorneys for defendant John Couey.

The judge then began questioning prospective jurors about their knowledge of the heavily publicized case. Publicity forced the trial to be moved from Citrus County, where the crime occurred, to Miami.

Jury selection is expected to consume much of the week and the final panel of 12 jurors and six alternates will be sequestered in an effort to limit anything they might hear or read about the case.

Couey is charged with first-degree murder, kidnapping, sexual battery on a child younger than 12 and burglary. He faces the death penalty if convicted, with the trial expected to take as long as four weeks.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)