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Talk Show Slaying Trial To Open

August 19, 1999

PONTIAC, Mich. (AP) _ Once again, a jury has been assembled to determine who should be held responsible for the shotgun slaying of a man after he revealed a gay crush on an acquaintance during a taping of ``The Jenny Jones Show.″

Opening arguments were to begin today in the retrial of Jonathan Schmitz, who had been convicted of second-degree murder in the 1995 death of Scott Amedure. The retrial was ordered because of errors made by the original judge.

Schmitz and Amedure flew to Chicago for the taping of a show about secret same-sex crushes on March 6, 1995. Amedure, who was gay, revealed his crush on Schmitz to the studio audience during the taped segment, which never aired.

In Schmitz’s confession after the shooting three days later, the self-described heterosexual told police he had been humiliated on national television.

In a separate civil case, a jury in May found the show and its corporate owner, Warner Bros., negligent and ordered them to pay $25 million in damages to Amedure’s relatives.

Warner Bros. lawyer James Feeney said he will ask for a new trial or for a reduction in the award, contending the jury was improperly instructed before deliberations.

Ms. Jones, who testified during Schmitz’s first criminal trial and the civil trial, is not being called as a witness for the retrial.

Schmitz has a new set of lawyers with a different approach in strategy. Defense attorney Jerome Sabbota has said he hopes to shift blame to Amedure.

``In the first trial, they blamed Jenny Jones and they blamed her show entirely,″ Sabbota said recently.

He said it all started with Amedure. Show producers ``never would have known about Jonathan Schmitz if not for Scott Amedure,″ Sabbota said.

After the taping, the defense contends, Amedure’s affection turned into an obsession that frightened Schmitz.

The judge has ruled that the defense will not be allowed to present evidence of Schmitz’s extensive history of mental illness. Under Michigan law, diminished capacity cannot be used as a defense against a charge of second-degree murder.

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