The Florida man who dropped his young daughter 62 feet to her death off a Tampa Bay bridge over four years ago was found guilty Tuesday of first-degree murder.

John Jonchuck was sentenced to life in prison the same day he was convicted of murdering his 5-year-old daughter, Phoebe, despite his lawyers' pleas to delay sentencing.

Prosecutors claimed his actions in January 2015 were premeditated while his defense team said he was not in his right mind, citing a long history of mental issues.

John Jonchuck was convicted and sentenced for murdering his daughter, Phoebe.

John Jonchuck was convicted and sentenced for murdering his daughter, Phoebe. (AP, File)

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His public defender, Jessica Manuele, told jurors Jonchuck loved Phoebe more than anything else in the world and that there was no evidence he acted out of "unbridled anger."

She also claimed his delusions led him to believe that Phoebe was possessed and that by throwing her over the bridge into the bay he was "protecting" her from the spirits trying to get to her.

The prosecution painted a very different image of Jonchuck, one in which he was motivated by anger to kill the toddler over fear that her mother would take her away from him and jealousy that his own mother, who he said was inattentive to him as a child, doted over her granddaughter.

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Twelve hours before Phoebe's death, Jonchuck's divorce lawyer, Genevieve Torres, called a state child protection hotline fearing for the girl's safety, investigators said.

Torres told the Department of Children and Families operator that Jonchuck had driven to three churches in his pajamas with Phoebe in tow that morning, called Torres "God" and asked her to translate his stepmother's century-old Swedish Bible, which he carried and over which he obsessed. Jonchuck was also paranoid that Phoebe wasn't his child, Torres said.

However, the operator thought the attorney was more worried about Jonchuck's safety than the girl's and did not report the call to authorities, they said.

Just after midnight the next day, Jonchuck's PT Cruiser raced past officer William Vickers, who was heading home from a shift in his patrol car. He started following Jonchuck but never got close enough to read the license plate and didn't know Phoebe was inside, investigators have said.

As they reached the bridge's crest, Jonchuck stopped and got out. Vickers, fearing an ambush, said he stopped behind him, pulled his gun and yelled at Jonchuck to show his hands. He saw no weapon.

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Jonchuck yelled at the officer, "You have no free will." He grabbed Phoebe from the back seat, held her over the side momentarily and then dropped her, according to police accounts.

Jonchuck drove off but was soon arrested. Vickers said he scrambled down a ladder to a dock below the bridge but couldn't see Phoebe in the dark water. A marine rescue boat eventually arrived and her body turned up hours later.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.