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John Jonchuck's lawyers have until August to file not guilty by reason of insanity defense in death of 5-year-old daughter Phoebe

John Jonchuck is accused of throwing his daughter, Phoebe, off the Dick Misener Bridge in 2015. [Pinellas County Sheriff's Office]
Published May 1, 2017

LARGO — A circuit judge on Monday gave the public defenders representing John Jonchuck until August to file the necessary paperwork in court to argue that the 27-year-old Tampa man is not guilty by reason of insanity.

SPECIAL REPORT: The Long Fall of Phoebe Jonchuck

Jonchuck faces a first-degree murder charge after St. Petersburg police said he threw his 5-year-old daughter Phoebe off the 62-foot high Dick Misener Bridge in January 2015.

He was found mentally competent to stand trial only recently, more than two years after a judge found him not capable of understanding the charges against him in February 2015.

Since then, he's been treated by state psychiatrists, but prosecutors have expressed concern that he may slide back into a state of being mentally incompetent to stand trial.

On Monday, Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge Chris Helinger gave the defendant's legal team until Aug. 15 to file its motion. If the defense exceeds that deadline, they'll have to explain why to the judge.

Jonchuck did not appear at Monday's hearing. His trial is scheduled to take place in February.


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