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Judge says doctor must examine John Jonchuck for competency before trial can continue

Jonchuck's lawyers are expressing concerns that he is hallucinating and might not be competent.

CLEARWATER, Fla. — The second week of the John Jonchuck trial ended abruptly Tuesday when a judge ruled he must be re-examined by a doctor for mental competency.

Jonchuck threw his 5-year-old daughter, Phoebe, off the Dick Misener Bridge in January 2015. The defense is still pushing for an insanity plea, and now the prosecution is saying Jonchuck was jealous over Phoebe's mom and her new boyfriend.

The judge halted the trial Tuesday afternoon after Jonchuck's lawyers expressed concerns that he "is hallucinating and might not be competent." The judge has ruled that a doctor must examine Jonchuck before moving forward with the trial.

Court Psychologist Dr. Jill Poorman told the judge she still believes Jonchuck is competent. It appears the judge will appoint another doctor for a second opinion. 

The jury was sent home late Tuesday afternoon and instructed to return to the courthouse at 1 p.m. Wednesday.

Last week, the defense put psychologist, Dr. Scot Machlus on the stand who believes Jonchuck was insane when he killed his daughter. However, Tuesday, during cross-examination, the prosecution pointed out a statement the psychologist had disregarded during his investigation.

According to a police report, when Jonchuck was 12-years-old, the prosecution said Jonchuck told a friend “if he ever gets in trouble one day, he would blame insanity.”

During the redirect, the defense pointed out that 12-year-olds often say “stupid things” and this statement doesn’t indicate anything about Jonchuck’s mental state when he killed his daughter years later.

Later in the day, the defense called on their second expert witness, Dr. Randy Kurt Otto, a psychologist who also echoed an opinion that Jonchuck has several mental illnesses involving symptoms such as hallucinations, delusions, and impaired mood.

On Friday, Michele Jonchuck detailed her son’s bizarre behavior just two hours before he killed Phoebe. Michele Jonchuck said her son was sleeping with a huge Bible the evening before Phoebe's death, but her granddaughter Phoebe was acting normally.

10News will continue to live stream the trial on the 10News Facebook page.

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