Accused Publix shooter Arunya Rouch: "Voices told me to get a gun"

2:51 PM, Jun 20, 2012   |    comments
Arunya Rouch cries during her murder trial.
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CLEARWATER, Fla. - The husband of accused Publix shooter Arunya Rouch says this case boils down to one thing -- his wife was bullied for months in her workplace, and no one at her company stopped it.

The stress and anguish from the defendant's husband was visible Wednesday morning as he testified about his wife.  He says she was treated like an animal while working at Publix.

"Publix managers didn't stop [the bullying] when they had the opportunity to stop it," he says. "They didn't do anything! Nothing!"

Tom Rouch gave powerful testimony as he described the "abuse" and "harassment" his wife allegedly received from her co-worker, Greg Janowski.

"I didn't know she was going to kill him, or I would have stopped it. Anyone in their right mind would have stopped it," he says.

Ultimately, Rouch's defense team says the 44-year-old was insane when she allegedly shot Janowski on March 30, 2010.   Her attorneys say she snapped after being called racial slurs by Janowski, that he even locked her in a seafood freezer at one point and wedged the door shut.

Rouch was a sushi preparer while Janowski worked nearby in the adjacent department as a meat cutter at the Tarpon Springs store.

Tom Rouch tells 10 News his wife was extremely saddened by the alleged bullying and applied for a transfer to the newly-constructed Crystal Beach store where he worked. She thought she was receiving that transfer on March 30, 2010. Instead, he says, she was fired. "She went in on a high and came out at the lowest she'd ever been."

Arunya Rouch, a native of Thailand, moved to America from the poorest section of Bangkok looking for a new life. She was thrilled, her family says, to receive citizenship. She and her husband both worked for Publix and had plans to retire there.

In 2010, the couple was simply "enjoying life," says Tom Rouch.

Rouch also tells 10 News, "That seafood department was her own little slice of America. She loved it. All she wanted was to go to work and do her job, then come home. That's all she wanted, and look what happened. Two families are destroyed."

In court, Mr. Rouch talked about the way Janowski treated her. He tells the jury, "She was very upset about it. She would cry. She would ask 'Why won't he leave me alone?'"

Arunya Rouch was known to "work off the clock," say co-workers. Managers testified that she came in before her shift and would begin working prior to her official start time, which is against Publix policy. Ultimately, it lead to her firing. Janowski and others told her to "stop doing it."

Rouch and Janowski fought several days prior to the deadly shooting. A manager testified he saw them arguing. Ronald Freebold says, "I saw her say 'I'll kill you.' Greg Janowski asked her 'Are you threatening me?' Then, she said 'Where I'm from, this is what we do to people like you,' and she pulled her finger across her throat."

Three days later, Rouch was fired, then came back three hours later and, police say, shot Janowski point blank in the parking lot as he drank his morning coffee and smoked a cigarette.

Tom Rouch says the "bullying" was wearing on his wife, and she was extremely unhappy. In fact, the defendant's husband says he ultimately confronted Janowski at one point. "Greg, why can't you leave my wife alone? She's never done anything to you. He looked at me, laughed, and walked away," he tells jurors.

The question remains: was Arunya Rouch insane at the time of the shooting? One rebuttal witness, Dr. Peter Bursten, testified Rouch told him she heard voices telling her to get a gun. In addition, psychatrist Emily Lazarou, also a rebuttal witness, says Rouch told her the voices sounded like a "walkie-talkie."

Lazarou talked at length about the fact Rouch is a "good person" and "treats people with respect." However, she ultimately says Rouch knew what she was doing that fateful day and "was sane" when she allegedly shot Janowski.

"Just because she has mental issues does not mean she's insane," Lazarou testifies. "[That day] she was well enough to go to work. She had a conversation with her boss. Then, [she went home] and had time to think about things."

Lazarou adds, "She had thoughts about wanting to hurt [Janowski]. "

Lazarou says she spent time interviewing and examining Rouch at length. "She did not meet the criteria for insanity. This was not random. She waited for this person and knew his schedule.  She knew what she was doing."

During the time of the shooting, Rouch was inside the store with a Publix bag with a hole cut out in the bottom, the state demonstrated, where a gun could be placed through the fabric.

Lazarou testified that Rouch used the bag that day to blend in. "She took a certain route in the store, looking for her managers. She knew what she was doing and why she was there."

Lazarou also talked about the feelings of anguish and depression that Rouch experienced after the event. She tells jurors, "[Arunya Rouch] said she was a loser and no good." She says Rouch felt continually picked on and bullied, until the point where she snapped.

"She had depression. Earlier in her life, she tried to kill herself when she was a child. She had mental issues."

However, Lazarou notes, "[Rouch] did not suffer from post traumatic stress disorder. She was not insane."

A jury comprised of ten women and four men, which includes two alternates, was listening intently during the testimony.

Rouch could face life in prison if she is convicted.

Her husband says his wife is "ready to accept whatever happens." In fact, he says she is ready to "shine for Jesus" if she spends life in prison. He called her "his rock" throughout this process.

"She is stronger than all of us," he says.

Photo Gallery: Pictures from the Publix shooting scene

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