Man accused of throwing daughter off bridge appears in court ahead of murder trial

Pinellas County

The man accused of throwing his daughter to her death over the Dick Misener Bridge appeared in front of a judge on Thursday ahead of his murder trial.

This marks the first time John Jonchuck has appeared in court since 2015, after the death of his daughter Phoebe.

He’s been held at the North Florida Treatment and Evaluation Center.

Judge Chris Helinger ruled on several last-minute motions before Jonchuck’s murder trial begins Monday. 

Jonchuck, appearing thinner, walked in the courtroom around 9:40 a.m. Judge Helinger wanted to address several issues before trial.

Some of the matters concerned the number of potential jurors attorneys they want questioned. They also discussed the room where individual jurors would be sequestered and where media would sit.

The defense has filed a motion to exclude the use of the word psychopath. Prosecutors brought in Dr. Peter Bursten, a psychologist, to give testimony.

Dr. Bursten evaluated Jonchuck on his mental state following the murder of his daughter.

The method he used, called the Psychopathy Checklist or PCLR, was the focus of many questions for prosecutors and the defense.

He said his job was to search for all aspects of psychopathy traits.

The defense argued that method is not a source to determine someone’s sanity, rather their personality, and shouldn’t be relevant in this trial.

The defense also filed a motion to exclude hypothermia testimony from the medical examiner.

Judge Chris Helinger denied both motions.

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