John Jonchuck might avoid trial for at least six months, thanks to two doctors’ ruling that he’s mentally incompetent to stand trial. Jonchuck notoriously killed his five-year-old daughter by throwing her off of the Sunshine Skyway Bridge in Tampa, Florida, on January 8. The man has been considered unstable from the beginning, and now that appears to be the only thing preventing him from facing his accused crimes.
According to the AP, Jonchuck appeared in court on Tuesday, accompanied by two doctors who told Pinellas County circuit judge Christine Hellinger that declared the defendant mentally incompetent to stand trial.
The judge declined to a make a ruling on the defendant’s condition, opting instead for a third mental health examination. The state attorney’s office stated that the third exam will be conducted on February 17, when Judge Hellinger will make the final decision on whether the man will face a trial for throwing his five-year-old daughter, Phoebe, off the bridge.
If he sides with the doctor’s recommendation, Jonchuck will avoid trial for six months while he receives treatment in a mental hospital, then he’ll be re-evaluated to see if he’s competent for trial. Local Bay News 9 reports that no case against the father will go forward until the court is confident he understands the charges.
The Daily Mail reports that Jonchuck has had a long history of mental illness. His attorney claims the defendant once drove to multiple churches in his pajamas, pulling his daughter Phoebe behind him. He requested the attorney translate the Bible into Swedish and had paranoid delusions that five-year-old Phoebe wasn’t his real daughter.
The attorney once called a child abuse hotline operator about his client’s erratic behavior, saying he’s “out of his mind.”
“He’s calling the office every five minutes and saying these religious things and saying the child might not be his, it just really concerns me. It’s all craziness and it doesn’t make any sense and he’s out of his mind.”
Unfortunately, emergency operators ignored that call, along with a few others that could have saved Phoebe’s life.
As previously reported by the Inquisitr, child abuse hotline operators received another call about a week before the five-year-old’s death. That caller claimed there was violence in the home and Phoebe was being abused. That call, like the attorney’s, was ignored and not turned over to investigators.
The hotline has changed its protocol. Now any call reporting mental issues of a parent will result in a child protective investigator on the scene within four hours.
Hopefully the new protocols will help children of mentally incompetent parents, even though it’s too late for Phoebe Jonchuck. More details on the crime can be found here.
[Image via AP]