TAMPA, Fla. (FOX 13) - For the first time in the John Jonchuck trial, an expert witness told the jury he believes the defendant was insane when he killed his daughter, Phoebe back in 2015.
Forensic psychologist Dr. Scot Machlus was paid by the defense to interview Jonchuck and analyze the defendant's alleged statements and behavior before, during, and after dropping his daughter off the Dick Misener Bridge.
Friday's testimony from Machlus, as well as Jonchuck's mother, Michele, appeared to move forward the defense's insanity plea.
Machlus described "delusional behavior" from Jonchuck, including a time when the defendant said his Bible was making noises.
As Machlus described Jonchuck's behavior, an attorney for the defense checked off boxes next to items written on poster board to show the jury how many times Jonchuck was apparently experiencing mental issues leading up the death of Phoebe.
On a screen with a slide titled “Contact with Mickey Jonchuck,” bullet points laid out some of Jonchuck’s alleged statements and actions to his stepmother around the time of Phoebe's death. The list included:
- John told her that he was the Pope.
- Phoebe was possessed by demons.
- John poured sea salt outside the doors to keep the demons from entering the residence and Phoebe’s bedroom.
Another slide titled “Contact between John Jonchuck, Jr. and Melody Dishman” listed similar behaviors, including:
- John told her she was a parish of God.
- John told her she was the Pope.
- John told her she had to walk on water.
The doctor also commented on testimony from Jonchuck’s former attorney, Genevieve Torres. She told the jury Thursday that she called police hours before Phoebe’s death to report odd behavior by her client.
Torres said Jonchuck asked her to read from a Swedish Bible and made statements implying his life would be different the following day.
The doctor’s testimony seemed to bolster the defense’s assertion that Jonchuck did not know what he was doing was wrong when he killed his daughter.
Jonchuck’s mother also took the stand Friday. She confirmed an incident when Jonchuck told her he thought Phoebe’s eyes looked different and were “possessed.” On another occasion, Jonchuck told his mother the walls were turning black and that his daughter was possessed.
Dr. Machlus said all of the alleged statements and actions by Jonchuck mean he was severely mentally ill at the time of his daughter’s death.