MIAMI — DNA evidence from a stained mattress and fingerprints from a pizza box link 9-year-old Jessica Lunsford to the man accused of abducting and killing her, forensics experts testified Monday.
Wesley Zackery, an analyst at the state crime lab in Tampa, said positive matches were made of prints of Jessica's left thumb and defendant John Evander Couey's two index fingers on the pizza box, found in Couey's bedroom closet. Similar matches were found on a glass tabletop in the bedroom, he said.
A crime lab expert on DNA, Roshale Gaytmenn, testified that Jessica's blood and Couey's semen were found on his mattress, including a mixture of the two in one spot. Similar DNA matches for Jessica and Couey were found on pillows recovered from the same room, Gaytmenn said.
Under defense questioning, Zackery acknowledged that six other fingerprints were found on the box but were never analyzed.
Couey, 48, is accused of sneaking into the Lunsford home — about 150 yards from his home — the night of Feb. 23, 2005, and abducting Jessica, then raping her and killing her by burying her alive.
Couey, with a record as a sex offender, was arrested during an extensive search for Jessica. Her body, encased in two large garbage bags and with two fingers poking out, was unearthed outside Couey's trailer. An autopsy showed she suffocated.
Couey faces the death penalty if convicted of kidnapping, raping and killing Jessica.
The jury also heard Monday from Gene Secord, a former housemate of Couey's who wound up in a jail cell next to him in March 2005 for failing to make child support payments. Couey appeared to have become more religious since his arrest, so Secord said he asked how he reconciled that with Jessica's slaying.
"He told me that was in the past and you can't relive the past, and to forget about it," Secord said.
In a separate Florida child slaying, a judge ruled Monday in Tampa that a confession made in custody by the sex offender charged with killing 13-year-old Sarah Michelle Lunde can't be used against him at trial because investigators didn't give him proper access to an attorney.
The loss of the confession and other statements by David Lee Onstott dealt a serious blow to prosecutors, who said they would appeal. They plan to seek the death penalty if Onstott is convicted of first-degree murder.
Sarah's body was found in an abandoned fish pond near her family's home in Ruskin, south of Tampa, in April 2005.
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