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Talk Show Murder: Jenny Jones. By: Sam Carlson 9 May 2007. Daytime tabloid talk show Ran from 1991-2003 Taped in Chicago at same studio as The Jerry Springer Show

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talk show murder jenny jones

Talk Show Murder: Jenny Jones

By: Sam Carlson

9 May 2007

the jenny jones show
Daytime tabloid talk show

Ran from 1991-2003

Taped in Chicago at same studio as The Jerry Springer Show

At first, showed covered serious issues, but then moved to more sensational topics such as strippers and wild teens as years went on

The Jenny Jones Show
same sex secret crushes
March 6, 1995: Taping of a show that featured people coming face to face with their secret crushes

Jonathan Schmitz (left), 26, said he was told by the show’s producers that his “crush” was a woman

The “crush” turned out to be his neighbor, Scott Amedure, 32, a homosexual

Schmitz laughed during the show and showed no signs of what was to come

“Same Sex Secret Crushes”
the show turns deadly
Three days after the taping, Schmitz receives a sexual note and assumes it is from Amedure

Schmitz goes to Amedure’s mobile home in Michigan and shoots him twice in the chest with a 12-gauge shotgun

A 911 call minutes later contains Schmitz’s confession: “I just walked into the room and killed him.”

The Show Turns Deadly

Amedure

the aftermath
“Same Sex Secret Crushes” episode never airs

Schmitz charged with first-degree murder

Michigan v. Schmitz murder trial begins

The Jenny Jones Show claims it had told Schmitz that his crush could be male or female

The Aftermath

Schmitz

media in the courtroom
Judge Francis X. O’Brien prohibits the press from interviewing witnesses until after the trial

The Detroit Free Press and The Detroit News appeal, saying the order violates the First Amendment

The appellate court sides with the newspapers

O’Brien then prohibits media from interviewing witnesses before they testify and prohibits interview with counsel in certain areas

The appellate court overturns the former order but upholds the latter

Media in the Courtroom
the verdict
November 12, 1996: Schmitz convicted of second-degree murder and possession of a firearm

December 4, 1996: Schmitz sentenced to 25 to 50 years in prison, with a possibility for parole after 20 years

The Verdict
but wait
Schmitz appeals, and the conviction is overturned in 1998 because of an error in the jury selection of the original trial

1999: Schmitz gets a re-trial and the same sentence

But Wait…
meanwhile another wave of litigation
Amedure’s parents sue The Jenny Jones Show for $50 million, claiming the show was responsible for Scott’s death

Jones testifies, says the producers told Schmitz that his admirer could be male or female

May 7, 1999: The jury finds the show responsible and awards the parents $25 million

The parents’ lawyer says the show should have done a more extensive background check on Schmitz prior to the show, particularly to see if he had any mental illnesses

Producers of the show claim they never misled Schmitz about whom his crush was and thus the show had no part in the murder

Meanwhile, Another Wave of Litigation

Jones

Amedure’s parents

media impact
Homosexuality on television was still rare in 1995, so the show’s topic itself caused the initial controversy

Decision in the civil trial changes the way talk shows discover and screen their guests

Geraldo Rivera calls the tactic used by the show “ambush television” and says he had used it on his show

Rivera also says he believed the show did lead to Amedure’s death

Producers of the show decided not to air any more shows that featured “same-sex crushes”

Media Impact

Rivera

the final word
The Final Word
  • October 2002: Michigan Court of Appeals overturns previous $25 million decision, says the show isn’t responsible for Amedure’s death
  • “Logic compels the conclusion that defendants in this case had no duty to anticipate the act of murder committed by Schmitz three days after leaving defendants’ studio and hundreds of miles away,” wrote the court.
bibliography
Bibliography
  • BBC News. Talk show killer convicted of murder. Retrieved from: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/431075.stm
  • BBC News. Talk show testimony delayed. Retrieved from: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/entertainment/312947.stm
  • CNET Networks Entertainment. Jenny Jones. Retrieved from:http://www.tv.com/jenny-jones/show/4507/summary.html
  • Court TV Online. Michigan v. Schmitz. Retrieved from: http://www.courttv.com/archive/verdicts/schmitz.html
  • Detroit Free Press. Hummer sells a bike fit for the military. Retrieved from: http://www.hummerbikes.com/articles/April03_Detriot_Free_Press.html
  • Epinions (Detroit News logo). Retrieved from: http://www1.epinions.com/news-Places-MI-Detroit_News/display_~latest_prices
  • Fox News. Geraldo Rivera. Retrieved from: http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,38978,00.html
  • Khan, Kim. Geraldo Rivera sees victory for plaintiffs in “Jenny Jones” civil trial. Retrieved from: http://www.courttv.com/archive/trials/jennyjones/050699_rivera_ctv.html
  • Michigan Department of Corrections. Jonathan T. Schmitz. Retrieved from: http://www.state.mi.us/mdoc/asp/otis2profile.asp?mdocNumber=253222
  • New York TV Show Tickets. The Jenny Jones Show. Retrieved from: www.nytix.com/TV_Shows/JennyJones/jennyjones1.gif
  • Robinson, Bryan. Schmitz receives 25 to 50-year sentence for “Jenny Jones” slaying- again. Retrieved from: http://www.courttv.com/archive/trials/schmitz/091499_sentence_ctv.html
  • Robinson, Bryan. Jury awards over $25M to Amedure family in “Jenny Jones” civil trial. Retrieved from: http://www.courttv.com/archive/trials/jennyjones/050799_verdict_ctv.html
  • The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. Media restrictions on ‘Jenny Jones’ case limited on appeal. Retrieved from: http://www.rcfp.org/news/1996/1118d.html
  • The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. Appeals panel throws out jury verdict in talk show murder case. Retrieved from: http://www.rcfp.org/news/2002/1029graves.html
  • Retzloff, Tim. Schmitz sentenced to 25-50 in Amedure murder.Retrieved from: http://members.aol.com/BeThLines/schmitz.html