CLEARWATER, Fla. — More than four years after he threw his little girl off a bridge, John Jonchuck is standing trial for her murder.
Jonchuck threw his 5-year-old daughter Phoebe off the Dick Misener Bridge in 2015. His defense team is arguing he's not guilty by reason of insanity. Prosecutors, however, argue he is not insane but was instead jealous over Phoebe's mom and her new boyfriend.
Before the trial continued Thursday morning, the judge had to deal with a mix-up involving Juror #1. Turns out, the juror lives in Trinity, which is in Pasco County, not Pinellas. The judge decided to dismiss him because it could cause an issue down the road. If Jonchuck is convicted of murder, this error could be used as a reason for an appeal.
"You’ve been very attentive, you’ve been a great juror. I watched you take notes. I think you’re a fabulous juror, but as opposed to invite a problem that we know about, I have to let you go," Judge Helinger told Juror #1.
The jury had four alternates in place so the trial continued as normal Thursday morning with Jonchuck’s lawyers putting witnesses on the stand.
At one point, the defense played video footage of Jonchuck's first court appearance in 2015, a day after Phoebe's murder.
The jury watched the video of a judge asking Jonchuck if he wanted a lawyer to represent him. Jonchuck said, "I don’t want a court-appointed lawyer, I want to leave it in the hands of God."
Later, a defense expert witness, Dr. Michael Maher, a psychiatrist, stated he believes Jonchuck was insane when he murdered his daughter.
"Specifically, he was not aware in any reasonable, rational, even primitive way of the nature and consequences of his actions, nor was he aware of the wrongfulness of his actions," Dr. Maher told the jury.
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