Psychologist: If Jonchuck was insane, he would have died with Phoebe

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For the first time, we heard an expert witness Tuesday who said he does not think John Jonchuck meets the legal standard for insanity when he killed his daughter by throwing her off a bridge.

Psychologist Peter Burnsten admits Jonchuck has a severe mental illness but he doesn’t believe that was the driving force behind Phoebe’s death

That, he believes, was a culmination of conflicts that had been building in Jonchuck’s life.

Some of those factors involved Phoebe, Phoebe’s mother, and the issues of custody. Burnsten said Jonchuck was like a teapot, boiling until it finally went off.

 “The conflict was building, creating pressure emotionally, psychologically, there were other factors that were very inflamed at the time,” Burnsten testified.

Burnsten said Jonchuck was suffering from mental illness and was unraveling at the time of Phoebe’s death, but he also said Jonchuck could still tell right from wrong.

“This was a buildup of a long-standing conflict. There were other things but we talk about how this moved over time; that's an important consideration,” Burnsten said. “I believe Mr. Jonchuck was not legally insane at the time of this offense.”

If the jury believes what Burnsten said over what the defense’s experts have presented, Jonchuck will spend the rest of life in prison rather than a mental hospital.

Jonchuck has said he heard voices, telling him he and Phoebe needed to die to save the world. Bursten said, if Jonchuck was only driven by delusions, he should’ve died too.

Previous coverage:

-Jonchuck tells court he will not testify in his own defense

-Jonchuck defense rests, making way for prosecution rebuttal

-Trial resumes as Jonchuck again deemed competent

-Jonchuck murder trial pauses for psychological evaluation

-Forensic psychologist: When Jonchuck killed Phoebe, he was insane

-Concerned about his behavior, former Jonchuck lawyer called 911 hours before Phoebe's death

-Prosecutors rest case against John Jonchuck

-Jonchuck trial moves into its second day

-Sanity a key question as Jonchuck jury selection enters day 3