Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

'I will kill you,' witness says Publix murder suspect told victim

ST. PETERSBURG — Prosecutor Fred Schaub pointed to the petite woman at the defense table.

Her name is Arunya Rouch, he told 12 jurors, and on March 30, 2010, she approached a silver Honda in the parking lot of a Tarpon Springs Publix. Arms extended, she pointed a gun into the open driver side window and fired two shots at a man sitting inside. She turned to go, the attorney said, then stepped back and fired two more times.

She knew what she was doing when she killed 40-year-old Gregory Janowski, he said. It was a carefully planned attack.

Wearing a white button-down shirt and black skirt, Rouch sat still with her arms crossed through Schaub's hourlong opening statement. Her eyes were blank, her lips frowned, her face rigid.

Then, her defense attorney addressed the court. George Tragos told jurors that Janowski had tormented Rouch for months before the killing. He used racial slurs against Rouch, who is from Thailand. He told her to "get back in her hole." Then, when she was fired, Rouch lost her mind. The shame was more than she could bear.

As Tragos spoke, Rouch began to sob. She pushed her black-rimmed glasses up on her head and pressed a tissue to her eyes.

After two days of jury selection, testimony in her first-degree murder trial began Thursday morning. Though prosecutors called nine witnesses to the stand, no one offered any surprising revelations. Likely the most critical portions of the trial — the testimony of the doctors who analyzed Rouch's psyche — won't come until next week.

The first witness was Publix employee Donald Frevold. Three days before the killing, he told the court, Janowski confronted Rouch in a room behind the produce section. Rouch, a seafood specialist, often worked "off the clock," coming in before her shift began to get ahead on her duties. The company prohibited the practice and, on that morning, Janowski, a meat cutter, told Rouch to quit doing it.

"It's none of your business," Frevold overheard her tell him.

"It is my business," Janowski said, "if you're working off the clock."

"I will kill you," said Rouch, before she stepped away.

"Oh," he said, "now you're threatening me."

Rouch turned and walked back to him.

"Where I come from," she said, "this is what we do to people like you."

Rouch slid a finger across her throat.

It didn't end there.

On a sheet displaying employees' schedules, Rouch drew an "X" through Janowski's name. Pamela Tatum, another co-worker, asked Rouch about it over the phone.

"I kill Greg," Rouch said to her. "I kill Greg. I kill Greg."

Rouch was fired three days after the initial threat. She apologized and cried and begged for another chance. But it was too late, her boss said, and a manager escorted her out of the building.

Five hours later, she came back wearing slacks, a dark sweatshirt and sunglasses. She shot Janowski, then tucked the gun into a lime green Publix shopping bag slung over her shoulder like a purse.

Rouch wandered the building, prosecutors say, looking for other targets.

Within minutes, officers from the Tarpon Springs Police Department had descended on the property. She fired several rounds at them before a sergeant shot her four times.

Tatum told the court she had long feared Rouch might do something extreme. Tatum had warned Janowski about the threat, and though he reported it, he didn't seem to take it seriously. Tatum did, she said, because Rouch was a serious person.

During heated arguments in the months before the shooting, Rouch had threatened to kill two other employees.

In one case, Tatum explained to jurors, Rouch had told her she would slit a man's throat.

John Woodrow Cox can be reached at jcox@tampabay.com.

'I will kill you,' witness says Publix murder suspect told victim 06/14/12 [Last modified: Thursday, June 14, 2012 10:43pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Record $417 million awarded in lawsuit linking baby powder to cancer

    Nation

    LOS ANGELES — A Los Angeles jury on Monday ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay a record $417 million to a hospitalized woman who claimed in a lawsuit that the talc in the company's iconic baby powder causes ovarian cancer when applied regularly for feminine hygiene.

    A bottle of Johnson's baby powder is displayed. On Monday, Aug. 21, 2017, a Los Angeles County Superior Court spokeswoman confirmed that a jury has ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay $417 million in a case to a woman who claimed in a lawsuit that the talc in the company's iconic baby powder causes ovarian cancer when applied regularly for feminine hygiene. [Associated Press]
  2. Search under way for missing sailors; Navy chief orders inquiry

    Military

    SINGAPORE — The U.S. Navy ordered a broad investigation Monday into the performance and readiness of the Pacific-based 7th Fleet after the USS John S. McCain collided with an oil tanker in Southeast Asian waters, leaving 10 U.S. sailors missing and others injured.

    Damage is visible as the USS John S. McCain steers toward Singapore’s naval base on Monday.
  3. Told not to look, Donald Trump looks at the solar eclipse

    National

    Of course he looked.

    Monday's solar eclipse — life-giving, eye-threatening, ostensibly apolitical — summoned the nation's First Viewer to the Truman Balcony of the White House around 2:38 p.m. Eastern time.

    The executive metaphor came quickly.

    President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump view the solar eclipse from the Truman balcony of the White House, in Washington, Aug. 21, 2017. [Al Drago | New York Times]
  4. Secret Service says it will run out of money to protect Trump and his family Sept. 30

    National

    WASHINGTON — The Secret Service said Monday that it has enough money to cover the cost of protecting President Donald Trump and his family through the end of September, but after that the agency will hit a federally mandated cap on salaries and overtime unless Congress intervenes.

    Secret service agents walk with President Donald Trump after a ceremony to welcome the 2016 NCAA Football National Champions the Clemson Tigers on the South Lawn of the White House on June 12, 2017. [Olivier Douliery | Sipa USA via TNS]
  5. After fraught debate, Trump to disclose new Afghanistan plan

    War

    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump will unveil his updated Afghanistan policy Monday night in a rare, prime-time address to a nation that broadly shares his pessimism about American involvement in the 16-year conflict. Although he may send a few thousand more troops, there are no signs of a major shift in …

    U.S. soldiers patrol the perimeter of a weapons cache near the U.S. military base in Bagram, Afghanistan in 2003. Sixteen years of U.S. warfare in Afghanistan have left the insurgents as strong as ever and the nation's future precarious. Facing a quagmire, President Donald Trump on Monday will outline his strategy for a country that has historically snared great powers and defied easy solutions.  [Associated Press (2003)]