Make us your home page

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?"


"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

  1. Video shows giant humpback whale breaching right off side of boat


    A man filmed a whale breaching really close to his boat in a video that has gone viral.

    A giant whale breached right next to a boat in the waters off New Jersey last week. It was captured on video.
  2. Next up in Bucs renovations? A $20 million indoor practice facility


    Renderings of the Bucs' new indoor practice facility (Courtesy of the Bucs)
  3. Want to feel old? It's been 20 years since the first 'Harry Potter' was published


    He was so cute: Blond hair, blue eyes and a killer smile. He was dressed in a black robe with a fake scar on his forehead and regaling our fifth-grade class with his book report on Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. As a 10-year-old with only the most sophisticated of tastes (give me a Baby-Sitters Club any day), …

    An auctioneer holds a first edition copy of the first Harry Potter book "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone" containing annotations and illustrations by author J.K. Rowling. The tale has turned 20,  published in Britain on June 26, 1997. Since then, it has sold more than 450 million copies worldwide and has been translated into 79 languages. (Associated Press [2013])
  4. Dunedin selects Jennifer Bramley as its next city manager

    Local Government

    DUNEDIN — In a unanimous vote Monday, the City Commission chose Jennifer Bramley as the next city manager.

    Jennifer Bramley, 52, was selected Monday as Dunedin's new city manager. She currently works as deputy city manager for the city of Coral Springs. [Photo courtesy of Jennifer Bramley]
  5. People leave the Supreme Court in Washington, Monday, as justices issued their final rulings for the term. The high court is letting a limited version of the Trump administration ban on travel from six mostly Muslim countries to take effect, a victory for President Donald Trump in the biggest legal controversy of his young presidency. [AP photo]