Jonathan Schmitz now? He lives a private life after leaving prison in 2017

Three days after Scott Amedure named Jonathan Schmitz as his crush during a taping of The Jenny Jones Show, Schmitz shot Scott twice in the chest, killing him. He called 911 and confessed to killing Scott. When the 911 operator asked why he did it, Jonathan said, “Because he played a very fucking bad thing on me. He took me on Jenny Jones.”

The shooting and the subsequent trial feature in the first episode of Netflix’s Trial By Media. At the end of the sensational trial, a court handed Jonathan 25 to 50 years in prison. Schmitz’s attorneys got him a new trial, but the different court handed Schmitz a similar sentence. 

Jonathan’s attorneys didn’t contest that their client shot Scott Amedure. They alleged that his crime constituted manslaughter due to Scott’s alleged diminished mental capacity. 

The lawyers argued that Jonathan’s manic depression and Graves’ disease made him unaware of the consequences of his actions. They further alleged that the show’s producers ambushed him, aggravating his mental condition.  

Scott not only revealed that Jonathan was his crush but also detailed various sexual fantasies about Schmitz. Jonathan smiled and laughed throughout the taping, but he did so to hide his embarrassment. He feared being perceived as gay by the outside world and his homophobic father. 

A suggestive note left on Schmitz’s driveway by Amedure pushed him over the edge. He purchased a shotgun and used it to kill his admirer. 

The prosecution pushed for first-degree murder, but the jury didn’t consider Jonathan’s actions premeditated. Similarly, they rejected the defense theory that Jonathan’s actions amounted to manslaughter. The Oakland jury found him guilty of second-degree murder. 

“I would like to say the word sorry,” Jonathan said during his sentencing. “Will they accept my sorry? I found it my sorrow. Please accept it today because tomorrow is tomorrow.”

“Whatever sentence I impose won’t take away sorrow,” the judge said as he handed Jonathan 25 to 50 years in prison. 

Jonathan secured release on parole in 2017 after spending 22 years behind bars. Scott’s brother, Frank Amedure, told The Associated Press that he hoped Jonathan was a reformed man:

“I wanted assurance that the (parole board’s) decision was not based on just good behavior in prison. I’d like to know that he learned something, that he’s a changed man, is no longer homophobic and has gotten psychological care.”

Frank told People that he was displeased that Jonathan secured release from prison, like any person who’s lost a family member to murder. “It might be easier if he [Schmitz] was old, and old gray-haired man,” he said. However, Frank added that he empathized with Scott:

“He’s still got a lot to go and my brother doesn’t. But there’s a side of, at least me and maybe some of my family members, that we do feel he was victimized in all of this, and so we can empathize with all of that.”

Jonathan Schmitz has adopted a private life since his release. He turned 51 in July 2021. 

The Jenny Jones Show launched in 1991 as a traditional talk show that discussed ‘serious’ matters. However, low ratings prompted the producers to shift to tabloid material: paternity tests, teenage delinquents, makeovers, strippers, feuding neighbors, and secret crushes. 

Improved ratings vindicated the decision to alter the show’s content. However, in search for viewership, The Jenny Jones Show failed to consider the feelings of the show’s participants. 

The Amedure family’s attorney Geoffrey Fieger stated that Jonathan and The Jenny Jones Show shared responsibility for Scott’s murder. He said:

“He spent 22 years, so that sounds like he’s completed virtually his entire sentence. I’m not absolving Schmitz of his crime. I’m just saying that The Jenny Jones Show and the people that were behind the show were equally responsible.”

Geoffrey Fieger represented the Amedure family in a lawsuit against The Jenny Jones Show, and Warner Bros. Fieger pushed Jenny Jones to admit that she humiliated Jonathan on national television without his permission and without considering his mental health issues. 

The jury awarded the Amedure family close to $30 million, but the Michigan Court of Appeals overturned the award. Despite this, the suit sparked changes in the manner talk shows screen guests and approach shows. 

In the 90s, shows that embraced ambush television dominated ratings. Jerry Springer, Maury Povich, and later Jenny Jones perfected the art of airing exploitative, humiliating content. “Nobody realized that these were real people, with real problems, and real secrets,” Robert Lichter told Firstpost.

Jenny insisted that Scott’s murder resulted from individual action rather than her show’s format. [Saying] trash TV is responsible for something is like saying the reason I’m getting fat is because of that refrigerator out there,” read one statement in favor of ambush TV (also trash TV).

Television eventually won the court battle, but the case forced it to change its methods of operation. For instance, talk shows have ‘implemented psychological profiling when searching for guests,’ Fieger told