The judge in the murder trial of a man accused of killing Jessica Lunsford has stopped jury selection because he says an impartial panel can't be found in the area.
John Couey's taped confession and other details of the case have received widespread media coverage. The judge threw out the confession before the trial because investigators ignored Couey's requests to speak to an attorney during questioning.
"She was still alive. I buried her alive. Like its stupid, but she,
so she suffered," Couey said on tape, CBS News correspondent Mark Strassmann reported.
Attorneys spent three days this week weeding out potential jurors who had been exposed to news reports about the case. The judge had moved jury selection to Tavares in Lake County because of pervasive publicity in Citrus County, where the alleged crimes occurred and where the nine-year-old girl's body was found.
But the judge decided today that the case has to be moved farther from Citrus County.
Meanwhile, prosecutors say they're confident they have enough evidence to convict the man accused of kidnapping, raping and killing nine-year-old Jessica Lunsford last year in Citrus County.
The judge has ruled that the defense can't question Jessica's father, Mark Lunsford, about his finances. The defense also can't introduce evidence of pornography found in the delete bin of a computer in his home after his daughter disappeared.
But the judge did rule that prosecutors can still use the discovery of Jessica's body buried outside the mobile home where Couey had been living. They can also use a bloody mattress from the mobile home that has Jessica's DNA on it.
Other incriminating statements he made later to investigators and a jail guard also can be used during the trial.
Jessica was found March 19, 2005, buried with her stuffed dolphin behind the mobile home, which was across the street from her house in Homosassa. She had been kidnapped from her bedroom three weeks earlier. The day before her body was found, Couey had told investigators where to look.
The third-grader was alive when she was buried in garbage bags with her hands bound by speaker wire, an autopsy found. The medical examiner ruled she died of asphyxiation.
Outrage over Jessica's slaying prompted the Florida Legislature to pass a bill establishing a mandatory sentence of 25 years to life behind bars for people convicted of certain sex crimes against children 11 and younger, with lifetime tracking by global positioning satellite after they are freed. At least 11 other states have followed suit.