Man found guilty of second-degree murder in talk show slaying
November 12, 1996
PONTIAC, Michigan (CNN) -- Jonathan Schmitz -- who admitted to killing a gay man after the man revealed a crush on him during the taping of a national television talk show -- was found guilty of second-degree murder Tuesday. (384K/18 sec. AIFF or WAV sound)
The jury rejected a verdict of first-degree murder sought by the prosecution, which would have carried a mandatory life sentence. Schmitz was held without bond pending a sentencing hearing set for December 4. He could be sentenced to life in prison.
The jury reported to Oakland County Circuit Judge Francis O'Brien Friday that they were deadlocked, but O'Brien ordered them to return to try again after the three-day Veterans Day holiday weekend.
Schmitz, 26, admitted that he shot Scott Amedure, 32, twice on March 9, 1995, three days after the two taped a segment of the nationally syndicated "Jenny Jones" show on same-sex secret admirers. Amedure, an openly gay man, and Schmitz were acquainted before the taping.
Schmitz's attorneys argued that Schmitz had been "ambushed" by the programs producers, and that the humiliation of having another man's attraction to him revealed in front of a studio audience -- along with mental instability -- prevented him from making rational choices at the time of the shooting.
Schmitz suffers from manic depression and Graves disease, a thyroid condition that can have emotional side effects, his attorney said. Schmitz's father Allyn testified that he feared his son would commit suicide after the shock of the television show taping.
The defense argued that "Jenny Jones" producers did not tell Schmitz that the secret admirer he was to meet on the show was a man. Schmitz said later that he assumed his admirer was a female acquaintance who accompanied him to New York for the taping.
But prosecutors argued that Amedure's murder was premeditated. In closing arguments November 7, prosecutors told the jury that Schmitz took a shotgun to Amedure's home with the intent of killing him in order to avenge a bruised ego.
The "secret crush" program never aired, but the segment was shown in the courtroom. On the tape, Schmitz appeared affable and slightly embarrassed when told of the crush, after exclaiming first "you lied to me" and then saying he was "definitely heterosexual."
Jenny Jones testified during the trial that she had no information about whether or not Schmitz was told the subject of the show.
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