TAMPA, Fla. – In opening statements Monday in the trial of a military wife charged with killing her two teenagers, the defense painted a picture of a sick, troubled member of an all-American family and prosecutors read chilling journal entries they say she wrote, detailing how she "offed" her kids.
Julie Schenecker, a 53-year-old former Army linguist, has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to two counts of first-degree murder. Police say Schenecker fatally shot Calyx, 16, and Beau, 13, in January 2011 while then-husband Parker Schenecker was deployed overseas. The two have since divorced, and he is expected to be a witness for the defense.
On Monday, prosecutor Stephen Udagawa said that after her arrest, Schenecker told detectives, "This is the worst thing I've ever done."
He told jurors that Schenecker detailed the slayings in her journal: "I was planning on a Saturday massacre," she wrote.
She bought a gun and had to wait to pick it up for a background check, prosecutors said.
Investigators said she shot her son twice in the minivan on the way to soccer practice, then shot her daughter while she was on the computer in their home. "I offed Beau on the way to practice," she wrote, according to prosecutors.
Defense attorney Jennifer Spradley told jurors the Scheneckers were "an all-American family with a sick member." Schenecker was molested at 6 and at 17, Spradley said.
Ex-husband Parker Schenecker spoke briefly to reporters before the trial started. "Today, for the next couple of weeks the focus really is on hearing Calyx and Beau's voices, so thank you very much," he said.
Last week, prosecutors, defense attorneys and Hillsborough County Judge Emmett Battles questioned dozens of potential jurors. On Friday, some were excused after they said the images of dead children would be too traumatic for them. Others were excused because they either knew about the case or the anticipated three-week trial would be a hardship.