Wednesday, April 18, 2018
News Roundup

John Jonchuck, who dropped daughter Phoebe, 5, to her death, still not competent to stand trial

Eight months after being accused of dropping his 5-year-old daughter off the Dick Misener bridge, John Jonchuck, 25, still is not competent to stand trial, his court-appointed lawyer said Tuesday.

"The hospital issued a report in July, where doctors declared him incompetent, and that still stands," assistant public defender Kandice Friesen said after a brief appearance before Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge Chris Helinger.

Around midnight on Jan. 8, an off-duty St. Petersburg Police officer spotted Jonchuck's white PT Cruiser speeding 100 mph toward the Misener bridge. When the car pulled over, the officer said he saw Jonchuck reach into the backseat and carry a child onto the bridge. Then the officer watched as Jonchuck let his daughter, Phoebe, drop 60 feet into the frigid water of Tampa Bay, police said.

Jonchuck was charged with first-degree murder and evaluated by court doctors. In February he was sent to a state mental hospital where other doctors are working with him to see if he is competent enough to stand trial.

Friesen said she has not been able to meet with her client, and that most trial preparation is on hold. Another status check hearing for Jonchuck is scheduled for Feb. 23.

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