Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Judge sets new hearing after evaluations say Jonchuck is mentally incompetent

LARGO — Two evaluations have concluded the man accused of dropping his 5-year-old daughter off a bridge into Tampa Bay is mentally incompetent, but more time is needed to study the matter.

Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge Chris Helinger heard briefly from lawyers on the matter Tuesday morning, and set a Tuesday followup hearing for John Jonchuck Jr., who has been arrested for first-degree murder.

Because Jonchuck is accused of such a shocking and irrational act, it's clear that his mental health will at least come under serious scrutiny.

But before the case can proceed against him, the judge needs to be sure Jonchuck can understand the case against him.

She did not rule on that point on Tuesday. At the followup hearing, attorneys can debate the meaning of the written evaluations received, and prosecutors could argue for another one.

They have not been made public.

If Judge Helinger determines Jonchuck is mentally incompetent, Jonchuck would be given mental health treatment in hopes that he could later become mentally capable. Once he is considered competent, the case against him would proceed.

A separate question likely to be addressed is whether Jonchuck was sane at the time of the murder, and legally responsible for it. Attorneys are nowhere near arguing that Jonchuck should be found not guilty. It's too early in the process for such an argument.

Although he was arrested and accused of first-degree murder, he has not yet been formally charged.

Contact Curtis Krueger at [email protected] Follow @ckruegertimes.

Judge sets new hearing after evaluations say Jonchuck is mentally incompetent 02/10/15 [Last modified: Tuesday, February 10, 2015 9:15pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Late fumble, field goal send Florida State to another loss


    TALLAHASSEE — Florida State's streak of 35 consecutive bowl appearances is in serious jeopardy after a last-second 31-28 home loss to Louisville on Saturday.

    Louisville's Lamar Jackson gets past Florida State's Matthew Thomas to score in the first quarter of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017, in Tallahassee Fla. (AP Photo/Steve Cannon) FLSC102
  2. Funeral starts for soldier at center of Trump fight


    COOPER CITY, Fla. (AP) — Mourners remembered not only a U.S. soldier whose combat death in Africa led to a political fight between President Donald Trump and a Florida congresswoman but his three comrades who died with him.

    The casket of Sgt. La David T. Johnson of Miami Gardens, who was killed in an ambush in Niger. is wheeled out after a viewing at the Christ The Rock Church, Friday, Oct. 20, 2017  in Cooper City, Fla. (Pedro Portal/Miami Herald via AP) FLMIH102
  3. Seasoned cast scores an extra-base hit for St. Petersburg Opera with 'Faust'


    TAMPA — Charles Gounod's Faust sets the table early. The world-weary philosopher immortalized in a dramatic poem by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe is in his study, lamenting his state of affairs. He's willing to give away everything he has to be young again, even his soul.

    The St. Petersburg Opera Company begins its season with Faust, in a production seemingly aligned with the original intent of French composer Charles Gounod and librettists Jules Barbier and Michel Carre. [St. Petersburg Opera Company]
  4. Police plan community meeting as search for Seminole Heights killer continues


    TAMPA — With people in Seminole Heights on edge following three related shooting deaths on their streets, police have planned a community meeting for Monday.

    The three Seminole Heights victims, from left: Benjamin Edward Mitchell, 22; Monica Caridad Hoffa, 32; and Anthony Naiboa, 20. [Facebook, family photos]
  5. Bucs-Bills: Tampa Bay's fatal habit of falling behind


    TAMPA — Okay, all you road scholars, why do the Bucs keep falling behind in games not played at Raymond James Stadium?

    Arizona Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer (3) recovers a fumble during the first half of an NFL game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz., on Sunday, Oct. 15, 2017.