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Jonchuck ruled still incompetent to stand trial for dropping daughter to her death

Michele Jonchuck, the mother of John Jonchuck, tearfully watches the proceedings Tuesday at his competency hearing before Judge Chris Helinger at the Pinellas County Justice Center in Clearwater. Jonchuck, who was not present in the courtroom, is accused of dropping his 5-year-old daughter off the Dick Misener Bridge to her death on Jan. 8, 2015, in St. Petersburg. One month later, he was sent to a state mental hospital, where doctors have been working to get him competent to stand trial. Story, 3B. For a video report, visit tampabay.com/video.
Michele Jonchuck, the mother of John Jonchuck, tearfully watches the proceedings Tuesday at his competency hearing before Judge Chris Helinger at the Pinellas County Justice Center in Clearwater. Jonchuck, who was not present in the courtroom, is accused of dropping his 5-year-old daughter off the Dick Misener Bridge to her death on Jan. 8, 2015, in St. Petersburg. One month later, he was sent to a state mental hospital, where doctors have been working to get him competent to stand trial. Story, 3B. For a video report, visit tampabay.com/video.
Published Apr. 27, 2016

ST. PETERSBURG — John Jonchuck, the 26-year-old man accused of dropping his daughter off the Dick Misener Bridge, is still incompetent to stand trial, according to a report from the court doctor, which was read during a hearing Tuesday.

Jonchuck will be returned to a state mental hospital to continue treatment. Another hearing to determine if he can face first-degree murder charges will be held Oct. 18, according to public defender Jessica Manuele.

While lawyers looked at Jonchuck's mental health evaluation, his mother, Michele Jonchuck, sat in the front row of the courtroom, weeping. She hasn't spoken to her son since he was moved back to Pinellas County last month and had hoped to see him Tuesday. But he was never brought into the courtroom.

Michele Jonchuck wore a gold angel pin and the heart-shaped necklace she had made in honor of her granddaughter, Phoebe, who was 5 last year when her dad dropped her over the bridge railing, into Tampa Bay.

Jonchuck was sent to a state mental hospital in February 2015, and doctors there have been working to get him competent to stand trial. Jonchuck's hearing originally had been scheduled for April 18, but the judge postponed that hearing to Tuesday after hearing that Jonchuck had not been taking all of his medications in the Pinellas County Jail.

A form in Jonchuck's court file shows that state doctors prescribed six medications for him.

A note in the file says, "It is strongly emphasized that maintenance of this patient's psychiatric stability and competence is dependent on his remaining compliant with the current medication regimen."

After Jonchuck was brought back to Pinellas County Jail last month, deputies' logs show he refused a visit from a psychiatrist, refused to take all his medications, turned down meals, clean clothes and time in the day room, and tried to grab a guard.

Contact Lane DeGregory at ldegregory@tampabay.com or (727) 893‑8825. Follow @lanedegregory on Twitter.