'Jenny Jones' talk-show killer gets 25-50 years
Schmitz reads poem before sentencingDecember 4, 1996
Web posted at: 6:45 p.m. EST
PONTIAC, Michigan (CNN) -- Jonathan Schmitz -- who admitted killing a gay admirer after the man revealed his crush on him during a taping of the "Jenny Jones" talk show -- was sentenced Wednesday to a minimum of 25 years for second-degree murder.
Schmitz, who listened dispassionately to the verdict after reading a poem expressing his sorrow for the March 1995 shooting death of Scott Amedure, will serve a maximum of 50 years in prison and will be eligible for appropriate appeals.
Oakland Circuit Judge Francis X. O'Brien also sentenced the 26-year-old to two additional years in prison -- to be served first -- for use of a firearm in the commission of a felony. He also has to reimburse the county for all costs involved and pay any appropriate fines.
The Oakland County probation department had recommended that Schmitz, who faced up to life in prison, serve at least 25 years in prison.
The judge said he took Schmitz's illnesses into account -- his defense lawyers said he had been fighting alcoholism, depression and a thyroid condition when the show's producers ambushed him and pushed him over the edge.
However, "you still have to be accountable to society," O'Brien said. With time served, Schmitz will likely remain behind bars for at least 20 years.
"Whatever sentence I impose won't take away sorrow," the judge said. He described Schmitz's sentencing as "extremely difficult." It was imposed after emotional testimony from members of Amedure's family. (170K/15 sec. AIFF or WAV sound)
Schmitz reads poem
Amedure's sister pleaded with the judge to force Schmitz spend the rest of his life in prison. And another relative of the victim discounted Schmitz's contention that he snapped because of a mental condition, saying that he had managed to control the same illness.
Schmitz admitted that he shot Amedure, 32, twice on March 9, 1995, three days after the two taped a segment of the nationally syndicated talk show on same-sex secret admirers. Amedure, an openly gay man, and Schmitz, who said he is heterosexual, were acquainted before the taping.
Before his sentencing, Schmitz expressed remorse. "I would like to say the word sorry," he said before reciting a short poem.
Second-degree murder can be punishable by any term up to life in prison. Sentencing guidelines are based on a point system that take into account the crime and a defendant's criminal record.
An Oakland County jury had rejected a verdict of first-degree murder sought by the prosecution, which would have carried a mandatory life sentence.
Schmitz's attorneys argued that Schmitz had been "ambushed" by the program's 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.
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. Witnesses said Schmitz had assumed his admirer would be a female acquaintance.
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.
© 1996 Cable News Network, Inc.
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