Jurors in Clearwater, Florida, deliberated for about seven hours over two days earlier than convicting John Jonchuck, whom prosecutors portrayed as a vengeful man who deliberate to kill his daughter to maintain her away from her mom and grandmother.
The Tampa Bay Instances reported that nobody from Jonchuck’s household was within the courtroom when the decision was introduced. And no pals or kinfolk spoke on behalf of Phoebe or her father earlier than the sentencing. Jonchuck, who was stoic when the decision was learn, hugged his attorneys and mentioned, “Sure, your honor,” when requested if he understood that the decision carries an computerized life sentence.
He was then fingerprinted and brought out of the courtroom by bailiffs.
Jonchuck’s legal professionals had requested the choose to delay sentencing for per week as a result of they’ve some points to examine. However once they failed to supply a cause, Decide Chris Helinger proceeded with the sentencing.
“I’m glad that justice was completed,” the newspaper quoted Pinellas-Pasco State Lawyer Bernie McCabe as saying. “My speedy response is killing kids doesn’t make one a really sympathetic character.”
The choose thanked jurors for his or her consideration throughout the monthlong trial. “There’s no means I can specific my appreciation in your service,” she mentioned. “I’ve by no means had a trial this lengthy and I’ve been right here about 12 years as a choose.”
Nobody disputed that Jonchuck, now 29, dropped his daughter Phoebe 62 toes into Tampa Bay in January 2015, and that he had a protracted historical past of psychological issues.
However prosecutors claimed his motion was premeditated. Assistant state legal professional Paul Bolan informed jurors that Jonchuck was motivated by anger over worries that Phoebe’s mom was going to take the woman away from him and his personal mom’s doting consideration to her granddaughter when she had been inattentive to him rising up.
“It was rage that drove him to it on high of that bridge,” Bolan mentioned. “Did he know what he was doing, and did he understand it was incorrect? The reply is clearly sure.”
However assistant public defender Jessica Manuele informed jurors Jonchuck cherished Phoebe greater than the rest on this planet and that there’s no proof he acted out of “unbridled anger.”
His delusions led him to consider Phoebe was possessed and that the archangel, Michael, was coming, Manuele mentioned. He poured salt outdoors her window to maintain spirits away, she mentioned.
In the meanwhile he threw her off the bridge, “he thought he was defending his daughter,” Manuele mentioned. “It should by no means make sense as a result of it’s madness.”
Twelve hours earlier than Phoebe’s demise, Jonchuck’s divorce lawyer, Genevieve Torres, known as a state youngster safety hotline, fearing for the woman’s security, authorities mentioned.
Torres informed the Division of Youngsters and Households operator that Jonchuck had pushed to a few church buildings in his pajamas with Phoebe in tow that morning, known as Torres “God” and requested her to translate his stepmother’s century-old Swedish Bible, which he carried and had turn out to be obsessive about. Jonchuck was additionally paranoid that Phoebe wasn’t his youngster, Torres mentioned.
However the operator thought the legal professional was extra anxious about Jonchuck’s security than the woman’s and didn’t report the decision to authorities, they mentioned.
Simply after midnight the subsequent day, Jonchuck’s PT Cruiser raced previous officer William Vickers, who was heading residence from a shift in his patrol automobile. He began following Jonchuck, however by no means acquired shut sufficient to learn the license plate and didn’t know Phoebe was inside, authorities have mentioned.
As they reached the bridge’s crest, Jonchuck stopped and acquired out. Vickers, fearing an ambush, stopped behind him, pulled his gun and yelled at Jonchuck to point out his arms. He noticed no weapon.
Jonchuck yelled on the officer, “You don’t have any free will.” He grabbed Phoebe from the again seat, held her over the facet momentarily after which dropped her, based on police accounts.
Jonchuck drove off however was quickly arrested. Vickers scrambled down a ladder to a dock beneath the bridge however couldn’t see Phoebe in the dead of night water. A marine rescue boat was summoned, and her physique was discovered hours later.