Publix shooting defendant Arunya Rouch has underwear and sheets taken from cell

1:10 PM, Jun 13, 2012   |    comments
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Arunya Rouch

Clearwater, Florida -- Jury selection continued Wednesday morning in the Publix shooting trial where an employee who was fired is accused of gunning down her co-worker at the Tarpon Springs store back in March 2010.

Arunya Rouch is charged with first degree murder in the death of her colleague, Greg Janowski, a father of four.  The two were known to fight often. Tarpon Springs police say Rouch was out for revenge.

The jury selection process has been moving along slowly since this was such a highly-publicized, high-profile case.   

So far, only nine jurors have been selected.    

Twelve are needed, along with two alternates. The problem seems to be that a large number of potential jurors are very familiar with the case.

In fact, 40 of the 56 jurors questioned on Tuesday admitted to Judge R. Timothy Peters that they heard about the case, which legal analysts say, makes it difficult to seat a jury.

Around 10:30 a.m., a pool of 30 more potential jurors was brought in for questioning.  The judge was hoping to get them selected and sworn in as soon as possible, and maybe get to opening statements by the afternoon.

In an effort to expedite the process, Judge Peters stayed late on Tuesday to select as many jurors as possible.

Rouch's attorneys brought up a big concern today.

George Tragos informed Judge Peters that his client returned to her jail cell Tuesday night and was missing her sheets and underwear.   Rouch did not get any sleep, Tragos pointed out, because she was on a bare mattress.  He also brought up the very personal fact that Rouch was experiencing her menstrual cycle and was unable to wear the necessary feminine products.

In addition, Tragos said, his client had a headache from not sleeping and requested that she be allowed to take aspirin.

The state then addressed Tragos' concerns by saying that Rouch has been on suicide watch at times in the jail and that jail staff will remove items from a cells of inmates that could be used to harm themselves. The judge said he would look into the matter.

As for the aspirin, the jail was said to be bringing medicine to Rouch.

Rouch is accused of gunning down her Publix co-worker, Greg Janowski, on March 30, 2010 just hours after she was fired for working without reporting her hours, which is against company policy for Publix.

Rouch was known, sources say, for arriving at the Tarpon Springs store early to start her shift at the sushi station.  

Employees maintain that she would begin her day prior to her official start time. 

"She liked to prep her work station before her shift," one friend said. "But, some people didn't like it."

The family of Arunya Rouch claims that Janowski badgered and belittled her constantly while on the job.  The two often argued, employees say.  Rouch was also accused of making death threats toward Janowski and crossing his name off the list of employee shifts for the week.

Rouch was fired just five hours before the shooting took place that fateful day.

Tarpon Springs police say that after Rouch was let go by her Publix managers, she left the store and then came back with a weapon and gunned down Janowski as he sat in his car in the parking lot while smoking a cigarette and drinking coffee before his shift began.

Janowski was married to his wife, Elizabeth, and was a father of four children.

The incident was partially caught on surveillance cameras in the store, showing Rouch quietly strolling through the front entrance with a green, recyclable Publix bag, where she allegedly stored her gun.  She was then seen climbing the stairs in a hallway where she was reportedly headed to seek out the managers who fired her earlier.

A fellow employee tried to take the gun away from Rouch while she was in the store. Shortly after, Tarpon Springs police arrived on scene and shot Rouch four times.  After the shooting, she remained in intensive care for weeks.

Rouch's job at Publix meant everything to her, according to her friends and family. 

Prior to her firing, she received a service award. After all, she and her husband, Tom, both worked for the company and enjoyed their careers.  Rouch immigrated to the U.S. from Bangkok, Thailand and worked hard to obtain her citizenship, her family says.

"She loves what she does," said her mother-in-law, Phyllis Rouch back in 2010.  "We don't know what happened.  We feel bad for the victim's family."

In this trial, she is facing a charge of first degree murder, two counts of aggravated assault, and two counts of attempted murder of a law enforcement officer.  If convicted, she could spend life in prison without the possibility of parole. Earlier in the case, Rouch said that she planned to invoke an insanity plea. 

She has been deemed competent to stand trial, but court-watchers say that her attorney will most likely try and prove that she "snapped" and didn't understand what she was doing at the time of the shooting.

However, that could be difficult to prove, say legal analysts, since she returned to the store just hours after she was fired and brought her gun with her, concealed in a Publix bag with a known target in mind, her co-worker with whom she shared an antagonistic relationship.  Prosecutors call her a killer, as does the family of Janowski.

"She took everything away from us," said one family friend.  "Now those children are without a father."

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