They say he’s sick, but he’s not insane. The dad who threw his 5-year-old daughter off a bridge in Tampa Bay, Florida is set to stand trial. His pre-trial hearing will move forward, and is scheduled for March 27th.
The decision to declare sane enough to go to trial for murdering his daughter was made by Pinellas County Judge Joseph Bulone on Friday.
Florida is a death penalty state. The district attorney is pleading for death for the child-murdering dad. They are expecting trial to begin this fall.
He is apparently sick due to mental issues. Currently, 27-year-old Jonchuck is in a Gainesville, Florida state hospital. Prosecutors are hoping the hospital will be able to regulate his meds properly.
“The concern for us is that he would become incompetent again,” Bruce Bartlett, a prosecutor on the case, told the newspaper. “The jail doesn’t force them to take the medication. If they don’t take it, then they slide back into that gray area.”
If Jonchuck’s mental condition changes, Bartlett said the state might reevaluate its death penalty push in the coming months.
A judge ruled in February 2015 that Jonchuck was incompetent and couldn’t stand trial. He was sent to a mental health facility until he could fully comprehend the charges against him.
A month earlier, Jonchuck was accused of tossing his daughter, Phoebe, off the Dick Misener Bridge in Tampa Bay. The little girl fell 62 feet to her death as her dad allegedly drove away while people tried to save her.
Jonchuck, then 25, was reportedly displaying odd behavior before throwing Phoebe over the bridge. He had referred to his daughter as “God” and asked her to translate a Bible in Swedish.
The attorney contacted authorities, who spoke to him and Phoebe when he picked her up from church day care. The next day he allegedly brought Phoebe to the bridge to meet her demise.
While it wasn’t immediately clear if Phoebe was dead before being thrown, cops ruled that the ill-fated girl was in fact alive when her dad allegedly sent her on the fatal plunge.
On Friday, Michelle Kerr — Phoebe’s mom — said Jonchuck’s trial couldn’t come soon enough.
“I don’t know how to put it into words,” she told The Tampa Bay Times. “I’ve been waiting for this day for a long time.”