Thursday, June 21, 2018
News Roundup

Trial date scheduled for John Jonchuck, charged with throwing daughter off Dick Misener bridge

John Jonchuck is scheduled to stand trial next February, three years after he was arrested on charges of throwing his 5-year-old daughter off the Dick Misener bridge.

After a Monday afternoon hearing with prosecutors and Jonchuck's three defense attorneys from the Public Defender's Office, Pinellas Circuit judge Chris Helinger set the trial date for Feb. 5, 2018.

The date was chosen taking into consideration Jonchuck's treatment schedule at the state hospital in Gainesville. His doctors inject him with medicine every 28 days, said Assistant Public Defender Jessica Manuele.

During the hearing, prosecutors requested a trial date sometime in the fall, noting that the case is already two years old.

But Manuele said her team needed more time to wrap up depositions. Next month, they are set to depose law enforcement officers from Hillsborough and Manatee counties.

Jonchuck's counsel also needs to spend more time with him, Manuele said. They plan to visit him at least once a day every month through December.

"We have not had two years of contact with our client," she said.

In the end, Helinger chose a compromise date in February.

Jonchuck was not present at Monday's hearing. He will remain at the state hospital until the case is closer to trial. Earlier this month, Jonchuck was found competent, which means he can understand the charges against him.

On Jan. 8, 2015, an off-duty St. Petersburg police officer saw a white PT Cruiser speeding south toward the Misener bridge just after midnight. The car pulled over and Jonchuck reached into the back seat for his 5-year-old daughter, Phoebe.

He carried her to the edge of the bridge, police said, and dropped her into the water.

Jonchuck is charged with first-degree murder. He faces the death penalty, but prosecutors have said they may revisit that decision given his mental health history.

The next hearing in the case is set for May 1.

Contact Laura C. Morel at [email protected] Follow @lauracmorel.

Comments
2018-19 schedule unveiled: Lightning opens with five straight at home

2018-19 schedule unveiled: Lightning opens with five straight at home

  NHL schedules all balance out at the end, but the Lightning will open 2018-19 with five straight home games and end the season with its last four on the road. The Lightning released its schedule Thursday evening for the upcoming season, with all ...
Updated: 6 minutes ago
Column: We can still save wild Florida, but time for panthers, black bears and us is running out

Column: We can still save wild Florida, but time for panthers, black bears and us is running out

When we dipped our paddles into Florida Bay at the mangrove fringe of Everglades National Park and took the first strokes of the 2012 Florida Wildlife Corridor Expedition, I’m not sure I fully understood the scope of the challenge we were facing. Six...
Updated: 13 minutes ago
Without a first-rounder, Lightning still could have busy draft weekend

Without a first-rounder, Lightning still could have busy draft weekend

The Lightning doesn't have a first-round pick in this weekend's NHL draft, but that's not to say it couldn't be a busy weekend for Steve Yzerman and his front office.The Lightning sent its top draft pick to the Rangers in February as part of a packag...
Updated: 1 hour ago
The all-time NBA draft — the best pick from every slot

The all-time NBA draft — the best pick from every slot

There’s a definitive answer every year to the question of who is No. 1 in the NBA draft. But who is the No. 1 pick of all No. 1 draft picks ever? Or No. 1 among the list of No. 2 draft picks? Those are questions that have no definitive answer, except...
Updated: 1 hour ago

Updated: 2 hours ago
Plant City’s champion Al Berry, whose name shouted his passion, dead at 83

Plant City’s champion Al Berry, whose name shouted his passion, dead at 83

His name was Berry and berry was his passion — the strawberry that put his beloved Plant City on the map.Alfred "Al" Berry was born with the name, but he took on his role as chief promoter of Plant City through his four decades of work with the commu...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Column: How the U.S. cornered the market for skilled immigrants

Column: How the U.S. cornered the market for skilled immigrants

Countries are constantly competing for the most talented workers and, according to the best available immigration statistics, the United States has been winning.The United States is home to just 4.4 percent of the world’s population, but in 2010, it ...
Updated: 2 hours ago
For once, scientists found good news about West Antarctica

For once, scientists found good news about West Antarctica

At least since 2014, the news has been dire: The West Antarctic ice sheet is losing ice, and its retreat may be unstoppable. It may be only a matter of time (granted, maybe a very long time) before it adds as much as 10 feet to global sea-level rise....
Updated: 2 hours ago
Deputies: Zephyrhills bank robbed, suspect flees on bicycle

Deputies: Zephyrhills bank robbed, suspect flees on bicycle

A Suntrust Bank in Zephyrhills was robbed early Thursday afternoon, according to the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office.At about 12:50 p.m., deputies said, the man walked into the bank at 34511 State Road 54 and presented a note demanding money, though he...
Updated: 2 hours ago
First lady’s ‘I don’t care’ jacket causes a stir

First lady’s ‘I don’t care’ jacket causes a stir

McALLEN, Texas (AP) — First lady Melania Trump boarded a flight to a facility housing migrant children separated from their parents wearing a jacket that read "I really don’t care, do u?"The green hooded spring military jacket has the words written g...
Updated: 2 hours ago