John Jonchuck, 29, stands trial in Pinellas County, Florida for the death of his five-year-old daughter Phoebe Jonchuck. Prosecutors say he tossed his daughter off the Dick Misener Bridge on Jan. 8, 2015. The defense is set to argue that he was insane at the time.
At least some members of the defendant’s family don’t believe that.
“He was a monster,” said his uncle Bryan Morris in a 2016 Tampa Bay Times profile of the case. He and his domestic partner Tim Maynard recounted a time in which they took in Jonchuck, a high school dropout who just attempted suicide on the roof of his father’s duplex. They claim he got angry at Tim and put thick wax on their staircase. Maynard slipped on this and broke three ribs, according to this story. Jonchuck allegedly saw this and laughed.
The defendant allegedly displayed some sort of religious mania before killing Phoebe, apparently becoming obsessed with his stepmother’s antique Swedish Bible. He allegedly told her that his daughter was a demon.
Things came to a head on Jan. 8, 2015. He brought Phoebe to the bridge and abruptly stopped his vehicle, according to an affidavit obtained by Law&Crime. A police officer confronted him, but Jonchuck allegedly ignored the cop’s commands, picked up Phoebe from the right rear passenger seat, and threw her into the water.
The defendant’s apparent mental condition was a factor early on in the case. A competency hearing in 2016 found that he needed more treatment before going to trial. The judge recently ruled that the term “psychopath” can be used at trial, though the defense argued this would be prejudicial against their client.
[Screengrab via WTSP]