A former Army linguist pleaded not guilty to murdering her two children by reason of insanity on Monday.
Julie Schenecker, 53, is facing two counts of first-degree murder for shooting her children, 16-year-old Calyx and 13-year-old Beau, in January of 2011 while her then-husband was deployed overseas.
If convicted, she faces life in jail.
She reportedly shot both children in the face because they were being “mouthy and sassy.” She shot both of her children twice; the second shot was fired to the mouth.
Schenecker, who bought a gun but had to wait for a background to check to go through before she could pick it up, kept accounts of the killings in her personal journal. “I was planning on a Saturday massacre,” the mother had written.
Investigators said that she shot her son twice in the minivan on the way to soccer practice. She shot her daughter while was on the computer in their Tampa Palms home.
Prosecutors stated that Schenecker had written, “I offed Beau on the way to practice,” in her journal.
Furthermore, she wrote that had her husband been home, she would have shot him, too.
After the woman sent her mother a disturbing email, officers went to Schenecker’s house, where they found her unconscious – she had taken an overdose of Lithium and blood thinner drugs – and wearing a blood-soaked bathrobe.
The officers then found the teenagers’ bodies. The officer who discovered the bodies testified in court on Monday that Beau was in the front seat of the minivan, which was parked in the garage. He had a gunshot wound to the head and face and his body was covered by a blanket.
Calyx, also covered by a blanket, was on the second floor of the home with two gunshot wounds to the head.
After she was arrested, Schenecker reportedly told detectives, “This is the worst thing I’ve ever done.”
Dr. Bernard Adams, the former Hills County Chief Medical Examiner from 2011 who examined the crime scene, testified that one of the bullets lacerated an artery, killing Calyx within a few seconds’ time.
Adams stated that Beau, who was shot at extremely close proximity, would have died instantly.
Schenecker’s defense attorney Jennifer Spradley noted that Schenecker, who she called “chronically, mentally ill,” had grown up under extremely troubled circumstances: she had been molested at ages six and 17.
The defense went on to state that Calyx would call her mother “useless” and would tell her, “you’re never going to amount to anything, you’re not my mother.”
Schencker’s ex-husband, Parker Schenecker, had been deployed to the Middle East in the weeks before the killings. He has since divorced his wife, and filed a wrongful death lawsuit against her.
Prosecutors have declined to pursue the death penalty because they believe that evidence might be able to prove that Schenecker is mentally ill, but not that is she legally insane. It is now up to Schenecker’s lawyers to show that she was so mentally ill that she did not understand that killing her children was wrong.
Court documents indicate that Schenecker has had a long history of mental. She has been medicated for depression throughout several periods of her life; documents also indicate that she was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and schizo-affective disorder.