Inmate John Evander Couey Dies of Natural Causes: Was on Death Row for Murder of Jessica Lunsford
Jacksonville – Death row Inmate John Evander Couey, Department of Corrections #063425, died of natural causes Wednesday, September 30, 2009 at Jacksonville Memorial Hospital. Couey, who was 51, died at 11:15am. He had been at the hospital since August 12, 2009.
On August 24, 2007, Couey was sentenced to die for the 2005 murder of nine-year-old Jessica Lunsford. She was taken from her bedroom in Citrus County sometime during the night of February 23, 2005, sexually assaulted and buried alive a few days later. She died of asphyxiation, according to the medical examiner's report.
Public outrage over Lunsford’s murder led to the passing on June 9, 2005 of the Jessica Lunsford Act, which enhances penalties for sexual crimes against children, including making sexual predators who murder their victims eligible for the death penalty. It also increases the penalty for lewd and lascivious molestation of a child to life in prison or a split sentence of a mandatory minimum 25-year prison term, followed by lifetime supervision with electronic monitoring.
In addition to murder, Couey, was also charged with burglary, kidnapping and sexual battery on a child less than 12 years of age.