CLEARWATER, Fla. (FOX 13) - John Jonchuck’s murder trial resumed Wednesday after a second doctor agreed he is mentally competent to face charges.
Jonchuck is accused of throwing his daughter, Phoebe to her death from the Dick Misener Bridge back in 2015. He pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity, but as his attorneys made their case Tuesday, they suddenly expressed concern their client seemed distant and confused.
Judge Chris Helinger paused the trial so the court psychologist, Dr. Jill Poorman could evaluate the defendant. It took her less than an hour to decide Jonchuck was still competent to stand trial, but the judge requested a second evaluation.
Psychologist Dr. Richard Cipriano offered his conclusion in court just after noon Wednesday, explaining that he asked Jonchuck a series of questions about the case. According to Cipriano, Jonchuck was able to say that his daughter died by drowning.
“I then asked him how they connect him to the crime and he said, ‘A cop saw me do it,’” Cipriano explained.
Based on those evaluations, the judge agreed the trial could continue Wednesday afternoon.
Jurors are unaware of the evaluations, though they may suspect something unusual took place. They were held out of court for several hours, then let go early Tuesday.
Up until that point, they have been listening to one of the defense’s expert witnesses who said he didn’t believe Jonchuck was fabricating his symptoms around the time of the crime.