CLEARWATER, Fla. (FOX 13) - "Mr. Jonchuck is guilty but insane." At least, that's what the notorious defendant's lawyers hope a jury will believe.
Opening statements took place Monday afternoon as John Jonchuck's murder trial finally began. Last week, a jury of seven women and nine men were selected. The defense will have to prove to the jury that Jonchuck was insane when he threw his daughter, Phoebe, off the bridge in January of 2015.
For about two years after Phoebe’s death, Jonchuck was found incompetent to stand trial and received treatment from a state mental hospital. In 2017, doctors said he was ready to face the law.
Earlier this month, his attorneys tried and failed to get the word "psychopath" banned from being used during the trial.
Monday, prosecutors opened their case by recounting Phoebe's 60-foot plunge from the Dick Misener Bridge, then the search for her body. They suggested the crime was calculated by Jonchuck as a way of getting back at his own mother and at Phoebe's mother.
Meanwhile, Johnchuck’s defense repeated the phrase “It just doesn’t make sense” several times. They recounted his mental history and what they called a difficult childhood. His attorneys also tried to show his actions and mannerisms on the night of Phoebe’s death were not that of a normal, sane person.
Officer Drew Vickers, who witnessed the crime, took the stand late Monday afternoon as the first witness in the case.
Jonchuck, 29, faces a first-degree murder charge with a likely penalty of life in prison a mental institution. Prosecutors are not seeking the death penalty.