Criminal Defense Lawyer on Schenecker Verdict

Criminal defense lawyer in Myrtle Beach discusses the case of mother turned murderer, Julie Schenecker. Julie met her husband, Parker, in Germany in the 80’s when she was working as a Russian linguist; both have military backgrounds. Parker and Julie were later married and were raising their two children, 16 year old Calyx and 13 year old Beau, in Tampa, Florida. They seemed like a normal family to their neighbors; however, Parker testified at this trial that Julie had begun to show signs of mental illness after their wedding. He also testified that his wife would mention suicide, but noted that she did not say she was planning on doing it.

Things started getting really rocky for the Schenecker family around the end of 2010 when Julie was involved in a minor car accident. She was under the influence of alcohol and Oxycontin when the accident occurred. That incident forced her into rehab; she also refused to allow her husband to speak with any doctors she would be working with at the facility. Julie went on to refuse the family counseling that her husband had also suggested to help get their family back on the right path.

The following year, 2011, is when Julie snapped again. On January 27, Julie sent an email to Parker stating that he needed to “get home soon” and that she and the kids were “waiting for” him. Parker was working out of the country at the time. When the email was written and sent, Julie knew that not everyone would be waiting on Parker when he got home. Julie knew this because, minutes earlier, she shot and killed the two teens. 13 year old Beau was shot in the family’s car as he and Julie were on their way to his soccer practice. 16 year old Calyx was shot while she sat at her computer doing school work. After Julie shot Calyx, she tried to manipulate the teen’s mouth into a smile. Julie then planned on turning the gun on herself, but she didn’t make it that far in her plan. She ended up passing out on the back porch until the next morning, January 28.

The morning of the 28th is when Julie’s mother called police because she was worried that she could not reach Julie or the children. Knowing the mental state Julie was in at that time, Julie’s mother wanted the police to drive by the home to check on everyone. When police arrived at the home, they found Julie on the back porch covered in blood and unresponsive. They woke her up and placed her under arrest; she had admitted to the officers that she killed the children because they “talked back and were mouthy.” Julie had shot the teens with a .38 revolver that she purchased five days prior to the incident. Less than a month later, Julie was indicted by the grand jury for first degree murder. Her husband, now ex-husband, was not supportive of Julie after the murders and filed for divorce.

Julie’s criminal defense lawyer entered a plea of not guilty for his client as he was planning to pursue an insanity defense in the trial. Prosecutors for the case eventually decided against the death penalty, as well. Her trial began this month in Tampa. During her trial, many facts were revealed about Julie and her mental stability. One of Julie’s doctor’s testified that he advised her to refrain from drinking alcohol while taking her medication for bipolar disorder. He also testified that, over the six months that he saw Julie, she became more and more depressed. Another doctor testified that, “despite the fact that she was experiencing severe mental illness, she did know that she was killing her children…and she did know that that was wrong.”

For the insanity defense to hold up, Julie’s criminal defense lawyer needed to prove to the jury that his client did not know right from wrong at the time the murders occurred. This proved to be a difficult task, as Julie had purchased the gun a short time before the murders. Julie also kept a journal which stated that she had planned to murder the children on a Saturday, but that plan didn’t pan out. After the murders, Julie wrote in her journal once again, detailing how she had “offed Beau” and that Calyx’s body was easier to move than Beau’s. Julie’s trial concluded with the jury reading a guilty verdict after less than two hours of deliberations. She was sentenced to two concurrent life sentences without the possibility of parole.

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