Trial by Media: What Happened to Jonathan Schmitz After His Highly Publicized Murder Case?
In 1995, a taping of The Jenny Jones Show ended in the murder of a 32-year-old man named Scott Amedure. The scandal has been ingrained in the public's true-crime memory through a highly publicized trial — after Amedure confessed a romantic interest in him on television, Jonathan Schmitz, 24, fatally shot him three days later. Netflix's new series Trial by Media takes on this gruesome case and the media frenzy that followed it. In 2017, Schmitz, then 47, was released from prison. Here's what to know about his trial and whereabouts after he committed murder.
The episode of The Jenny Jones Show on secret crushes surprised Schmitz with a secret admirer. During the taping, Amedure confessed that he had a crush on Schmitz, who was his acquaintance. In that installation of the daytime tabloid talk show, Schmitz said, "I'm definitely heterosexual, I guess you could say." Three days after the taping, Schmitz shot Amedure twice in the chest and called 911, embarrassed about the reveal on the show. Amedure had allegedly left a suggestive, unsigned note at his house, prompting Schmitz to get a shotgun and go to Amedure's mobile home. The episode was never aired but has been referred to in the courtroom and used for television news programs.
Schmitz's defense attorneys argued that he had been diagnosed with manic depression and Graves' disease, the show triggering his mental illness. Schmitz was convicted of second-degree murder and received a sentence of 25 to 50 years in jail in 1996. His conviction was overturned on appeal, but he still ended up with the same charge and sentence in 1999.
Amedure's family believed that the producers were to blame as well — the show did not tell Schmitz that his admirer was a man. The Amedures sued the show for wrongful death, putting Jones herself on the stand and questioning the ethics of the ambush tactics on her program. A jury awarded the Amedures $29.3 million and found the show irresponsible and negligent, but the decision ended up being overturned.
Schmitz served time at Michigan's Parnall Correctional Institution. In 2017, he received early parole, released on good behavior. Amedure's brother Frank has expressed concern over the decision.
"I wanted assurance that the (parole board's) decision was not based on just good behavior in prison," Amedure's brother said to the Detroit Free Press in 2017. "I'd like to know that he learned something, that he's a changed man, is no longer homophobic and has gotten psychological care."