More competency tests ordered for man accused of dropping daughter from Tampa Bay bridge


Bay News 9

Little happened in court Monday morning to determine the competency of the man accused of dropping his daughter off a Bay area bridge to her death last year.

John Nicholas Jonchuck, Jr., 26, is accused of dropping his daughter Phoebe Jonchuck 62 feet from the Sunshine Skyway southbound approach on Jan. 8, 2015 just after midnight.

Attorneys for John Jonchuck said their client is having some issues in jail but declined to put a deputy on the stand to testify about specifics. Attorneys said they saw him this morning and have concerns about Jonchuck's stability and that he is not taking all his medication.

Circuit Judge Chris Helinger ordered another doctor's evaluation to whether Jonchuck can be ruled competent. The competency status check will be held April 26.

Jonchuck has already been found incompetent once in this case - in February when a judge ruled on a psychological evaluation.

During that unusually cold and windy Jan. 2015 night along the Gulf Coast, a St. Petersburg police officer spotted John Jonchuck speeding by in his car early that morning onto the bridge and then the officer said he witnessed Jonchuck drop Phoebe.

Phoebe lived with her father, and in the last day of her life, he made comments that frightened his lawyer so much she called authorities and frantically wondered aloud if she should have kept the girl at her office.

Since then, Jonchuck has been ruled incompetent and sent to a state hospital for treatment.

If Jonchuck is ultimately ruled competent, stands trial and is found guilty, prosecutors have indicated they plan to seek the death penalty.

Jonchuck has had a long history of treatment for mental health issues, including schizophrenia, bipolar issues and an attention deficit disorder.

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