Florida Judge to Decide John Couey's Fate

INVERNESS, Fla. (AP) - The attorney for convicted child killer John Couey gets another chance to save his life Tuesday.

A Florida jury has already convicted him for kidnapping, raping and burying alive nine-year-old Jessica Lunsford two years ago.

The judge is not bound by the jury recommendation of a death sentence,
but is required to give it "great weight."

At Tuesday's sentencing hearing, Couey's attorney is expected to argue it would be illegal to execute Couey because he is mentally retarded. He will instead ask that Couey be sentenced to life in prison.

Jessica Lunsford's death led to tougher laws for tracking sex offenders and punishing repeat offenders nationwide. Couey has a longstanding criminal record and was designated a sex offender in 1991.

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

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