Many of you have contacted Jeb Bush regarding the Jessica Lunsford case. Here's the reponse being sent out by Jeb's office.
Thank you for your letter regarding the abduction and murder of Jessica Lunsford. Governor Bush appreciates your concerns about State Attorney Brad King’s decision not to prosecute John Couey’s relatives for lying to police during their search for Jessica. He has asked me to respond on his behalf.
The Florida Constitution limits the Governor’s intervention in matters that should be resolved through the court system. The elected state attorney has the sole discretion to file or decline to file criminal charges in a particular case. There are ethical and legal considerations based on both the quality and quantity evidence that guide the state attorney’s decision. The Governor is not vested with the same authority and cannot intervene in the decision making process even if he were to disagree with the State Attorney's decision.
There is understandable outrage over the failure of John Couey's relative to inform police that a sex offender lived in her home. However, according to the state attorney, there is no evidence to suggest this relative knew Couey had abducted Jessica when she was questioned by the officer. While, in certain circumstances, Florida law requires persons to come forward with information concerning the commission of a crime, there is no statute requiring an individual to notify police of the presence of a sex offender or the whereabouts of someone with an outstanding arrest warrant. That being so, after a thorough review of the facts and the law, the State Attorney determined that the relative’s actions did not constitute a crime under present Florida law. If you disagree with this decision or believe that the State Attorney misapplied the law, I encourage you to contact Mr. King's office directly.
The Governor will continue to work with the Florida Legislature and law enforcement to address this gap in the law. Although no action will return Jessica Lunsford to her family and friends or diminish the seriousness of the horrible crime committed against her it is Governor Bush's hope that crimes such as these can be prevented from occurring in the future. Thank you again for writing. Our prayers go out to the Lunsford family and all affected by this tragedy.
Office of Citizens' Services