Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Green grocery bag shows Publix shooter's state of mind, prosecution says

LARGO — Prosecutor Fred Schaub held a 9mm pistol above his head.

This, he told jurors in a Pinellas courtroom Friday afternoon, was the weapon Arunya Rouch used to kill Gregory Janowski in a Tarpon Springs Publix parking lot two years ago.

Janowski's daughter, Jade, dressed in black, quietly sobbed in the front row. Her nails painted a deep red, she wiped away tears with her fingers. Family members passed over tissues.

In many trials, the murder weapon's unveiling is the moment. The prosecutor holds up the gun. Sometimes cocks it. Sometimes re-enacts the shots. The courtroom falls silent. The crime becomes real.

But Rouch's trial is not like most. She doesn't deny killing Janowski. But Rouch says she was insane at the time and didn't know what she was doing.

And that's why the next piece of evidence Schaub held up — the green Publix bag in which Rouch carried the gun — may be the most important.

A hand-length slit, Schaub noted, was cut into the bag's side. The morning of the killing, Rouch was fired from her job at Publix for threatening to kill Janowski days earlier. She then went home, authorities say, and doctored the bag to make it easier for her to access the weapon.

That decision, prosecutors have argued, proves she knew what she was doing.

Friday morning, Schaub tried to further illustrate the argument with a pair of witnesses who saw Rouch that day two years ago.

After Rouch shot Janowski, she tucked the pistol into the bag and entered the store.

When Publix clerk Virginia Wahler first spotted Rouch, she didn't know what had happened in the parking lot. Wahler only knew that Rouch had a gun.

"Hi, Arunya," Wahler said, putting her arm around Rouch.

"Hi, Virginia," Rouch said, returning the hug.

"How you doing, baby?"

"Okay."

"C'mon baby, don't do this," Wahler said. "Don't ruin your life and everybody else's."

Then, suddenly, Wahler wrapped her arm around Rouch's neck and went for the gun.

Rouch pulled her hand out, Wahler told the court, and pressed the firearm against Wahler's stomach.

"Let me go," she said Rouch told her, "or I'll kill you."

Ronald Chmielorz, Rouch's former boss, saw the struggle and walked over to help. Then Rouch broke free.

She pointed the gun at him.

"I believe she pulled the trigger," he told jurors. "I see a bullet eject. I don't know why it didn't go off."

Tarpon Springs police descended on the store. Rouch fired several rounds at them before a sergeant shot her four times.

Green grocery bag shows Publix shooter's state of mind, prosecution says 06/15/12 [Last modified: Friday, June 15, 2012 8:52pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. What you need to know for Thursday, Oct. 19

    News

    Catching you up on overnight happenings, and what you need to know today

    White nationalist Richard Spencer is scheduled to speak at the University of Florida tonight and the school is on high alert for tensions. [Associated Press]
  2. Bowen: Park land deal raises Penny for Pasco questions

    Environment

    The Penny for Pasco is unambiguous.

    At least it is supposed to be.

    There was no equivocating in 2004 when Penny for Pasco supporters detailed how the sales tax proceeds would be spent: schools, transportation, public safety and environmental lands. No money for parks. No money for recreation.

    Pasco County is considering a loan from its Environmental Lands Acquisition and Mangement Program to buy land for a park in the Villages of Pasadena Hills in east-central Pasco. Shown here is the Jumping Gully Preserve in Spring Hil, acquired by ELAMP in 2009 and 2011.
[Douglas R. Clifford, Times]
  3. Another Tampa Bay agency loses tax credits worth millions in dispute over application error

    News

    LARGO — Another Tampa Bay housing agency has lost out on a multi-million dollar tax credit award because of problems with its application.

    A duplex in Rainbow Village, a public housing complex in Largo. The Pinellas County Housing Authority is planning to build new affordable-housing in the complex but was recently disqualified from a state tax credit award because of an issue with its application.
  4. Live blog: Many unknowns as Richard Spencer speaks in Gainesville today

    College

    GAINESVILLE — A small army of law enforcement officers, many of them from cities and counties around the state, have converged on the University of Florida in preparation for today's speaking appearance by white nationalist Richard Spencer.

    Florida Highway Patrol cruisers jammed the parking lot Wednesday at the Hilton University of Florida Conference Center in Gainesville, part of a big show of force by law enforcement ahead of Thursday's appearance by white nationalist Richard Spencer. [KATHRYN VARN | Times]
  5. As Clearwater Marine Aquarium expands, it asks the city for help

    Growth

    CLEARWATER — When Clearwater Marine Aquarium CEO David Yates saw an architect's initial design for the facility's massive expansion project, he told them to start all over.

    Clearwater Marine Aquarium Veterinarian Shelly Marquardt (left), Brian Eversole, Senior Sea Turtle and Aquatic Biologist (middle) and Devon Francke, Supervisor of Sea Turtle Rehab, are about to give a rescued juvenile green sea turtle, suffering from a lot of the Fibropapillomatosis tumors, fluids at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium Wednesday afternoon. Eventually when the turtle is healthy enough the tumors will be removed with a laser and after it is rehabilitated it will be released back into the wild.  -  The Clearwater Marine Aquarium is launching a $66 million renovation to expand its facilities to take in injured animals and space to host visitors. The aquarium is asking the city for a $5 million grant Thursday to help in the project. American attitudes toward captive animals are changing. Sea World is slipping after scrutiny on the ethics of captive marine life. But CEO David Yates says CMA is different, continuing its mission of rehab and release, it's goal is to promote education, not exploitation. JIM DAMASKE   |   Times