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Man Accused of Throwing Daughter off Bridge Set to Stand Trial

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John Jonchuck is accused of throwing his 5-year-old daughter off a bridge to her death, a crime for which he faces the death penalty.

According to reports, John Jonchuck took his daughter out for a ride one night. Speeding down the road, Jonchuck was trailed by a police cruiser that signaled him to pull over. Jonchuck did pull over. But then he exited his car. The officer told him to stay where he was and to put his hands up. Jonchuck responded by informing the officer that “he had no free will”. He circled back to the passenger side where he scooped out his daughter and tossed her over the bridge. Thus ended the life of Phoebe Jonchuck.

Obvious Defense: Insanity 

John Jonchuck threw his daughter over Dick Misener Bridge 3 years ago on January 8th, 2015. For the past three years, John Jonchuck has been in a state psychiatric facility where psychiatrists say he has not been fit to stand trial. A defendant can only stand trial if they understand the charges against them and can participate in their own defense. But that doesn’t prevent them from being held accountable if doctors get him to the point to which he is capable of standing trial. At that point, a jury must decide if he is responsible for his actions or not.

In six weeks, Jonchuck will stand trial for the murder of his daughter.

Defense Strategy Unclear 

When defense attorneys are tasked with the defense of an indefensible client, sometimes the best strategy is to confuse the opponent by filing an endless series of bizarre motions. Such seems to the be the defense strategy in the case of John Jonchuck. This includes being allowed to access all the prospective jurors’ pleas to be excused from the trial and to object to those pleas if they find a juror who they think will fit well on the jury.

Why?

According to them, it’s because jurors who are poor are often underrepresented on juries due in large part to having difficulty finding childcare or taking time off from work. The most likely explanation for this series of motions is that they’re trying to buy time. The question is: for what?

Other defense motions make more sense. The defense attorneys for Jonchuck are looking to minimize the impact of victim statements on the jury. This phase generally comes in after the defendant has been found guilty. Surviving family members are allowed to address the jury. The defense has filed a motion to have their statements read by an impartial 3rd party to drain the impact of the statements of as much emotion as possible. The defense has also asked the judge to block victim impact statements from the trial or alternatively rule them constitutional. None of these motions are likely to go in the defense’s favor.

It does, however, appear that the defense is preparing for the eventuality that their client will be found guilty.

Contact a Criminal Defense Attorney Today 

If you’ve been accused of a crime, West Palm Beach criminal defense attorney Scott Skier can help. We defend those who have been accused of routine DWI’s and high profile murder defendants. Give us a call at (561) 820-1508 or contact us online, and we can talk about your case today.

Resources:

tampabay.com/projects/2016/features/the-long-fall-of-phoebe-jonchuck/

tampabay.com/news/courts/criminal/As-Jonchuck-nears-trial-defense-takes-novel-approach-to-gain-any-advantage_170862008

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