Jonchuck's defense attorneys want a new trial after murder conviction

Image 1 of 3

John Jonchuck was found guilty of murdering his 5-year-old daughter back in 2015, but his case will be returning to court in hopes of getting a new trial.

In April, he was sentenced to life in prison for throwing his daughter, Phoebe, off the Dick Misener Bridge. Ten days after his conviction, Jonchuck’s attorneys filed a motion, claiming he didn’t get a fair trial.

Wearing a jail uniform and sporting a shorter haircut, Jonchuck appeared back in the same courtroom Monday where he was convicted. His defense presented several points Monday they say show their client should have a new trial.

Jonchuck's lawyers said prosecutors committed misconduct by telling the jury about aspects of his relationship with Phoebe's mother, about Social Security payments Jonchuck received for Phoebe, and that Jonchuck committed the murder of Phoebe to punish the little girl's mother.

"I have not been provided still with anything that says once your raise insanity it becomes a free for all for their character," defense attorney Jessica Manuele said.

The defense said the court allowed the jury to hear a comment that Jonchuck made when he was 12 years old, when he apparently said, "If I ever get in big trouble, I am going to claim insanity."

Jonchuck's attorneys also said the jury should not have been told about certain pieces of evidence, such as previous "bizarre" statements made by Jonchuck, or that Jonchuck defaulted on payments for his condo and spent money on drugs. 

Attorney Manuele called some of the evidence presented at trial "extremely, extremely prejudicial."

The defense said an expert witness seemed to have changed his mind about Jonchuck's mental state between the time when the doctor was interviewed and when he testified.

Finally, the defense said one of the case's controversial expert witnesses, Dr. Lazarou was dressed inappropriately during her evaluation of Jonchuck, but the court refused to let the jury decide whether that was true and if it may have played a role in his behavior.

"The errors made by the trial court denied John Jonchuck, Jr. the right to a fair trial, and [Jonchuck] respectfully requests this court grant his motion for new trial," according to the court document.

The judge will give a written order on whether Jonchuck gets a new trial.