Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Publix shooting suspect's husband says victim tormented her at work

ST. PETERSBURG — Thomas Rouch sat alone at a round table in the courtroom cafeteria, the smell of coffee and corn chowder all around him. His shirt's top button was undone, his tie loose, his jaw clenched. He thumbed through a yellow pamphlet covered in bold black letters: "Taking the Scare Out of Auto Repair."

The booklet was just a distraction. Upstairs, his wife, Arunya Rouch, was on trial for first-degree murder. He would be the last witness to take the stand in her defense, to tell jurors she must have been insane when she shot a co-worker four times two years ago, to insist the woman he'd loved for more than a decade was no cold-blooded murderer.

He expected to testify last week, then Tuesday morning, then Tuesday afternoon. Finally, at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday, a bailiff called his name.

Other than family, Thomas Rouch told jurors, nothing meant more to his wife than her job in the seafood department at a Publix in Tarpon Springs

Around late 2009, she began complaining to her husband about a meat cutter named Gregory Janowski. He picked on her, Thomas Rouch testified. He teased her, criticized her work and told her to "get back in her hole."

"She was very upset about it," Thomas Rouch said. "She would cry. She would ask, 'Why won't he leave me alone?' "

Arunya Rouch, at times, told her husband she was "mentally sick" and depressed about the constant taunting.

In March 2010, he confronted Janowski. Thomas Rouch was bringing medication to his wife at work when he saw Janowski near the entrance.

"Greg, why can't you leave my wife alone? She's never done anything to you," Thomas Rouch recalled. "He looked at me, laughed and walked away."

Days later, Thomas Rouch talked to Publix managers where he worked in Crystal Beach. He wanted his wife to transfer there to work with him. They liked the idea, he said.

The weekend before the shooting, Arunya Rouch seemed normal and happy, he said. They went shopping at a nearby Vietnamese flea market. She got a new haircut. She made a cake for the first time and covered it in syrup and cocoa.

On March 30, 2010, they had breakfast together. She was excited about leaving her store. The couple planned on sharing steaks and beer that night.

Then, around noon, a manager at Thomas Rouch's store told him to call Tarpon Springs police. His wife had shot Janowski.

"All along," he said, "I didn't believe that."

He sped to the store, arriving just as she was being lifted into a helicopter.

In cross-examination, prosecutor Fred Schaub asked Thomas Rouch if it was surprising that his wife had killed someone.

"Yes, it was," he told the court. "It still is."

At the defense table, Arunya Rouch pulled off her dark-rimmed glasses and set them down. She pressed a tissue against her eyes.

After more than an hour of testimony, Thomas Rouch told the court he still didn't understand why his wife had done what she did. Simply, he said, she must have snapped.

When the judge dismissed him, he stepped down from the witness stand. He glanced at his wife and pressed his hands together beneath his chin, as if to pray.

He was the defense's last witness.

Prosecutors then called two doctors to refute a defense expert who said Arunya Rouch was insane at the time of the shootings. The prosecution's experts testified that she knew right from wrong at the time of the killing. A third doctor likely will say the same thing today before attorneys make their final arguments and the case goes to the jury.

John Woodrow Cox can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 893-8472.

Publix shooting suspect's husband says victim tormented her at work 06/20/12 [Last modified: Wednesday, June 20, 2012 10:48pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Lightning edges Red Wings on road

    Lightning Strikes

    DETROIT — The digs were different, the Lightning seeing the masterfully-done new Little Caesar's Arena for the first time.

    Lightning center/Red Wings’ killer Tyler Johnson gets past defenseman Trevor Daley on his way to the first goal of the game.
  2. Armwood pulls away to defeat Plant 27-7, remain undefeated


    SEFFNER — First-year Armwood coach Evan Davis pulled out all the stops to get his team psyched for Monday's annual grudge match against Plant.

    Armwood defensive end Malcolm Lamar (97) gets fired up before the start of the game between Plant High School Panthers and the Armwood High School Hawks in Suffer, Fla. on Monday, Oct. 16, 2017.
  3. Clearwater police: Car thief dead after owner fires gun


    CLEARWATER — One man is dead after the owner of a car fired shots at the thieves who were stealing it Monday night, police said.

  4. Iraqi forces sweep into Kirkuk, checking Kurdish independence drive


    KIRKUK, Iraq — After weeks of threats and posturing, the Iraqi government began a military assault Monday to curb the independence drive by the nation's Kurdish minority, wresting oil fields and a contested city from separatists pushing to break away from Iraq.

    Iraqi security forces patrol Monday in Tuz Khormato, about 45 miles south of Kirkuk, a disputed city that the government seized in response to last month’s Kurdish vote for independence.
  5. Trump and McConnell strive for unity amid rising tensions


    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump and Sen. Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader, tried to convey a sense of harmony Monday after months of private feuding that threatened to undermine their party's legislative push in the coming weeks to enact a sweeping tax cut.

    President Donald Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell field questions Monday in the Rose Garden of the White House. “We have been friends for a long time,” Trump said.