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Jonchuck trial: Controversial testimony continues to cause delays

The court spent half the day arguing over whether the jury can hear testimony from a controversial witness.

CLEARWATER, Fla. — The murder trial of John Jonchuck saw a big delay Wednesday, and more controversial testimony began Thursday.

After spending half of Wednesday arguing about whether she could testify, the court put psychologist Dr. Emily Lazarou on the stand Thursday morning. She testified about what Jonchuck told investigators at the top of the bridge before throwing his daughter off. She said she believes Jonchuck was not psychotic or delusional based on his statements and actions.

Lazarou thinks Jonchuck has a severe anti-social personality disorder but is not insane. Jonchuck's defense team tried to get her thrown off the case last fall.

Previous: Controversial testimony causes big hold up during John Jonchuck trial

“You don’t go from God to Archangel to a devil to a demon to the Pope to this to that in a very short period of time like that. Even in a long period of time, psychotic systems don’t work like that,” Lazarou said on the stand this week.

Both Lazarou's testimony and that from a prior witness for the prosecution, Dr. Peter Bursten, are problematic for the defense. Jonchuck's lawyers argue he was insane when he dropped his daughter off a St. Petersburg bridge, killing her.

Defense attorney Jessica Manuele tried to discredit Lazarou by showing how often she's used by the state, claiming her testimony would favor their side because of it.

Lazarou testified she has billed the state 300 hours at $150 an hour for the Jonchuck case, earned $45,000. Since 2008 she’s been paid $700,000 for her work as a state witness.


Jonchuck is on trial for dropping his 5-year-old daughter, Phoebe, off the Dick Misener Bridge in January 2015. 

There's no argument he did it – a St. Petersburg Police officer watched him do it. The prosecution is vying for a murder conviction, but Jonchuck's defense team is arguing that he's not guilty by reason of insanity.

The trial resumes Friday

Related: Four years after he threw his daughter off a bridge, John Jonchuck's murder trial begins    

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