TV & Movies

Jonathan Schmitz From 'Trial By Media' Is No Longer In Prison

Jonathan Schmitz in Trial by Media

Netflix's new documentary series Trial by Media examines the way the press has impacted famous criminal trials. In the case of Scott Amedure's murder, the media was sort of the impetus. A few days after Amedure appeared with Jonathan Schmitz on a talk show, he was shot and killed by Schmitz, who was ultimately found guilty of second-degree murder. Two decades later, however, Schmitz was released from prison.

As chronicled in Trial by Media, the whole thing started when Amedure and Schmitz appeared on an episode of the Jenny Jones Show, where Amedure revealed to a live studio audience that he had a crush on Schmitz. An uncomfortable-looking Schmitz said that he was heterosexual and rejected Amedure's advances. Three days later, Schmitz showed up at Amedure's home and shot him. Afterward, Schmitz turned himself in for the murder, claiming he'd committed the crime because he'd been embarrassed on the TV show.

In 1996, Schmitz was sentenced to 25 to 50 years in prison — a sentence he received a second time in 1999 after an appeal granted him a new trial. Schmitz's attorney tried to get the charge downgraded to manslaughter, but the jury felt that it qualified for second-degree murder. According to The New York Times, the case had also been considered for first-degree murder, but some members of the jury didn't think it was premeditated.

Schmitz served less than half of his maximum sentence, and was released in 2017 after 22 years in prison, per Click On Detroit. He made parole, which resulted in his early release, something that upset Amedure's older brother. "I wanted assurance that the [parole board's] decision was not based on just good behavior in prison," Frank Amedure Jr. said, according to the Lansing State Journal. "I'd like to know that he learned something, that he’s a changed man, is no longer homophobic and has gotten psychological care."

Since leaving prison, Schmitz has kept a low profile, even declining to give comment or be interviewed for the Trial by Media Netflix episode on his case. Considering that being on a talk show is what prompted his crime, it's not surprising that he's avoided TV since.