Talk Show Guest Convicted of Murder in Second Trial
A man who killed a gay acquaintance who had revealed a crush on him during a “Jenny Jones Show” taping was convicted of murder Thursday for the second time in a case that threw a spotlight on daytime TV’s titillating fare.
The jury rejected the crime-of-passion defense of Jonathan Schmitz who, three days after the taping in 1995, shot Scott Amedure at his trailer home and then called police and confessed.
Schmitz, 29, could get life in prison at sentencing Sept. 14.
As the verdict was announced, Schmitz hung his head, stared down and clasped his hands under his chin.
The jury deliberated less than three hours over two days, asking at one point to see a suggestive note, with a blinking construction light attached, left by Amedure on Schmitz’s door the night before the shooting.
Amedure, 32, revealed his crush on Schmitz on a “Jenny Jones” segment titled “Same-Sex Secret Crushes.” As the audience whooped with delight, Jones elicited Amedure’s whipped cream-and-strawberries fantasy involving Schmitz. Amedure put an arm around Schmitz, who turned away.
Schmitz, who has said he is heterosexual, later claimed he was humiliated. He said he had been led to believe that the secret admirer he was going to meet on the show would be a woman.
The verdict Thursday marked the third time a jury has considered who was responsible for the slaying, which led to debate over ambush tactics sometimes used by talk shows such as Jones’.
Schmitz was convicted of murder in 1996 and sentenced to 25 to 50 years in prison, but the verdict was overturned on appeal because of errors in jury selection. Then, last April, a jury in a lawsuit brought by Amedure’s family ordered the producers of the Jones show to pay $25 million.
Schmitz’s attorney, Jerome Sabbota, this time sought a lesser verdict of manslaughter, arguing that Amedure continued to pursue Schmitz ardently after the taping of the show to the point that Schmitz “lost all reason.” The show never aired.
Prosecutor Donna Pendergast told the jury that Schmitz overreacted to mere embarrassment.
“The only reason that murder is an issue is that Scott Amedure was gay and [Schmitz’s] manhood, so to speak, was insulted on national TV,” she said. “Well, you know what? Get over it.”
Juror Kimberley Manney agreed.
“If he was gay and a woman had approached him that way, would it have been right for him to kill her because she put a note and a flashing light in his door?” she said after the verdict.