Tampa Bay, Florida, military mom, Julie Schenecker, 53 is finally going to trial for murdering two teenagers, her 13-year-old son, Beau and 16-year-old daughter, Calyx. Jury selection started on Monday and her attorneys are planning to use the insanity defense.
Schenecker, originally from Iowa, grew up playing sports all through school and even into college. After graduating from college, she joined the Army and became a Russian linguist stationed in Munich Germany. While there, she met and married Colonel Parker Schenecker in the late 80s, and a few years later, she left the service.
As a military family, they moved around and at the time of the killings, Col. Schenecker was stationed in Tampa, Florida. However, he had been deployed to the Middle East only a few weeks before his wife was to take the lives of their two teenage children.
A once doting mother of two, who never missed a soccer game, Schenecker heinously, murdered both of her children. According to Tampa Bay police officers, in January 2011, Schenecker shot her son two times in the head because he back talked her on the way to soccer practice. She then returned home where she shot her daughter in the face as she sat studying on the computer.
Following the murders, she e-mailed her mother, which prompted her to call the Sheriff’s department and officers were dispatched to the scene. They found Schenecker covered in blood on the back porch and the bodies of the two slain children. Sources say the condition of the children’s bodies was so distressing to officers that a stress team had to be called in to counsel them.
Julie Schenecker is on trial for murdering two teenagers, and prosecutors in the case are not seeking the death penalty. Instead, they are confident they have enough evidence that they can prove Schenecker is mentally ill; however, they did not believe she is legally insane. If convicted, Schenecker could be given the sentence of life in prison without possibility of parole.
The burden in this case lies with the defense. They will have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Schenecker was so mentally ill at the time of the murders that she had no way of understanding that killing her children was wrong. If defense attorneys prevail by using the insanity plea, the judge in the case could remand Schenecker to a mental hospital where she would stay until such time she is no longer a danger to herself or to others.
Prosecutors believe it is going to be difficult for defense attorneys to prove that Schenecker was insane and did not know that what she was doing was wrong because of the way she acted in the days leading up to the murders. Five days before the murders, Schenecker purchased a handgun. However, she was not able to take possession of the pistol until after the mandatory three-day waiting period for buying a gun had passed, meaning she had to return to the gun shop a second time to pick up the .38-caliber firearm, which suggests premeditation.
Defense attorneys are expected to rely heavily on her long history of mental illness that started in the early 90s. At that time, she was diagnosed with severe depression. From 1997 to 2001, Schenecker was prescribed a regime of daily medications to combat the symptoms of her depression. On top of having severe depression, she was then diagnosed as being bipolar and having a schizoaffective disorder.
Several months prior to the murders, Schenecker’s daughter, Calyx called the Police Department and reported an incident where her mother had struck her. Although police officers investigated the claims, the case was closed because no visible marks were found on the 16-year-old.
Julie Schenecker is on trial for murdering her two teenage children. Jurors in the case will have to determine if she is guilty of premeditated murder or if she was insane at the time of the murders.
By Donna W. Martin