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Closing arguments expected Wednesday in Publix shooting case

5:46 PM, Jun 19, 2012   |    comments
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Arunya Rouch sits in court during jury selection of her murder trial.
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CLEARWATER, Fla. - She was deep in thought for most of the day while sitting at the defense table, often taking off her glasses and staring down at legal pads.

Arunya Rouch listened intently as her attorneys argued that she was insane and suffered from mental illness when she allegedly shot her co-worker, Greg Janowski, at the Tarpon Springs Publix in 2010.

Attorney George Tragos introduced the defense's star witness for the case, psychiatrist Dr. Karl Jones. Tragos asked Dr. Jones, "Did Arunya Rouch know when she shot Greg Janowski, and shot police officers, did she know right from wrong?"

"I thought that she was cognitively impaired, that she did not know right from wrong. She was out to commit suicide by cop," answered Dr. Jones.

Defense attorneys say that Rouch had a mental breakdown and suffered from post traumatic stress disorder after months of verbal abuse from Janowski. The defense also claims that Rouch wanted to commit suicide by cop and wanted to die after she snapped.

The state tried to poke holes in that theory, saying that Rouch was on a mission for murder that day.

Assistant State Attorney Fred Schaub asked the witness, "She wants to take her life and she wants police to take it, correct? Suicide by cop? You know she shot three times at officers. She wanted to shoot the police, didn't she?"

But, the witness pointed out that "she wanted cops to shoot her too."

Prosecutors went after the defense's star witness, pointing out that the Dr. Jones never testified about someone's insanity ever in his career. "You've never testified to this, have you?" asked Schaub.

At one point earlier in the day, Rouch, in a quiet voice, told the judge she would not testify in her own defense. However, her husband Tom, also a Publix employee, will testify on Wednesday about the case.

There was an issue raised by the state about Tom Rouch's involvement in the trial so far. As a potential witness, the defendant's husband is not allowed to sit in court during testimony. However, the state brought up the fact that Tom's sister is, in fact, inside the courtroom taking notes, then sharing them with her brother.

Tom Rouch was heard in a taped jailhouse conversation talking with his wife about the testimony thus far in court, specifically bringing up Publix managers who have testified. Prosecutors pointed out to the judge that "this is against the rules and has to stop."

Schaub added, "[Tom Rouch] can not be discussing what witnesses say in court."

Judge R. Timothy Peters said he would look into it. Meanwhile, there was another intense moment when the jury saw surveillance video never released, until now. The video was a compilation from 30 different Publix cameras from the day of the shooting. It showed Rouch being consoled by a co-worker during the shooting, a man who tried to stop what happened next.  The two walked together in the meat department before she told him to leave her alone.

Then, there was eerie video of police officers, staking out the Tarpon Springs store, trying to find Rouch, cops say, and terrified that she was around the corner.

Then, there were the managers, running out the door when they heard gunshots, afraid they would be next.

Rouch was shot four times that day and spent weeks in intensive care.

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