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Trial delayed for father of Phoebe Jonchuck

John Jonchuck
John Jonchuck
Published Dec. 22, 2017

LARGO — The trial of John Jonchuck, accused of throwing his young daughter Phoebe to her death off the Dick Misener Bridge three years ago, was moved back once again on Friday.

Judge Chris Helinger set a new start date of Sept. 24, 2018, back from the summer. Prosecutors and a representative from Jonchuck's defense team agreed to the date.

The legal saga was long delayed by medical findings that Jonchuck was not competent to understand the charges against him in court. Doctors labeled him fit for trial in March. He has continued to receive treatment at a state hospital.

Read more: The Long Fall of Phoebe Jonchuck

Authorities said he dropped 5-year-old Phoebe off the bridge on Jan. 8, 2015. An off-duty St. Petersburg police officer said he watched as Jonchuck pulled over his white PT Cruiser near the bridge's apex, lifted his daughter out of the car and dropped her over the edge in the dark.

Jonchuck, now 28, is charged with first-degree murder. He faces the death penalty, but prosecutors have said they might pull back on that potential sentence because of his mental health history.

He did not appear at the hearing Friday.