PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. — Attorneys for John Jonchuck, who was convicted earlier this month of first-degree murder in the death of his daughter in 2015, filed a motion asking for a new trial.
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- Read the motion for re-trial (PDF)
Jonchuck was convicted of first-degree murder on April 16, 2019. During the first trial, prosecutors argued that Jonchuck dropped his daughter Phoebe off the Dick Misener Bridge on January 8, 2015 as a deliberate act of vengeance.
The motion filed Friday argues that several decisions made by Judge Chris Helinger during the previous trial regarding evidence the jury should or should not have been allowed to hear were improper or unfair.
The attorneys also pointed out what they called "misconduct" on the part of the prosecutor in the case, who they say made a number of statements during their opening and then never provided evidence to support those statements.
Specifically, the motion cites the following statements by the prosecution:
- that Jonchuck was jealous of his daughter Phoebe for receiving gifts
- that Jonchuck murdered Phoebe to punish her mother and his mother
In addition, Jonchuck's attorneys argue that the judge allowed evidence about Jonchuck's "bad character" or previous bad acts that should have been excluded, since Jonchuck was not on trial for any of those items.
Finally, the motion claims errors were made that denied Jonchuck his right to a fair trial.
The motion for re-trial represents the first post-conviction act by attorneys on behalf on Jonchuck.
The motion will be heard by Judge Helinger. The court has released no information on when Helinger will make a decision or when a hearing date will be set.