CLEARWATER, Fla. — John Jonchuck was in court Thursday morning for the first time in years.
He was in an orange jail suit and much thinner than he was four years ago when investigators say he threw his 5-year-old daughter, Phoebe off a bridge leading up to the Sunshine Skyway Bridge. Phoebe Jonchuck’s body was later recovered from Tampa Bay.
The judge denied both motions by the defense at Thursday's hearing.
The first motion was about whether or not the term, 'psychopath' could be used during the trial. Jonchuck’s lawyers argued the term will inflict prejudice on the jury. The state put a psychologist on the stand Thursday who believes Jonchuck fits the 'psychopath' categorization according to a psychopathy checklist, however Dr. Peter Bursten never referred to Jonchuck directly as a 'psychopath' . The doctor was on the stand for more than two hours.
Judge Chris Helinger did not rule on the word 'psychopath' but said the word 'psychopathy' is allowed.
The second motion was to prevent testimony about hypothermia being a cause in Phoebe’s death. That motion was also denied.
The trial begins Monday with jury selection. If John Jonchuck is found guilty of murder, he’ll spend life in prison. The defense will argue Jonchuck is not guilty by reason of insanity.
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