A Tampa, Florida jury deliberated for less than two hours Thursday evening before finding Julie Schenecker guilty of first-degree murder for the shooting deaths of her two teenage children in 2011.
Schenecker’s attorneys had been pitching an insanity defense, which the jury of eight men and four women rejected, and the defendant was handed a mandatory life sentence. A red-eyed Schenecker reacted to the ruling apathetically, before being shackled by bailiffs and lead from the courtroom.
The Schenecker double homicide occurred on January 28, 2011, when Calyx and Beau Schenecker were found dead in their Tampa home by police. Julie Powers Schenecker was arrested on suspicion of their murder after an alleged confession. At the scene of the crime, the teens were found with gunshot wounds to their heads and covered in blankets, and Schenecker herself was found covered in blood on the back porch of the house.
Schenecker had initally admitted to police that she shot her children because they “talked back and were mouthy,” and proceeded to describe the murders in detail. Police arrested Schenecker at the scene.
Schenecker, 53, who has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, made a statement to the court after being found guilty.
“I apologize. I apologize to everybody in this courtroom … the lives I have destroyed,” Schenecker said in a wispy, almost childlike voice, adding, “I take responsibility. I was there. I know … I know I shot my son and daughter. I don’t know why.”
After praising the U.S. court system, Hillsborough Circuit Judge Emmett L. Battles and the public defenders appointed to her during the trial, former U.S. military member Schenecker went on to describe herself as being akin to a “battle-tested soldier about to receive the Purple Heart.”
The convicted then apologized again for the shooting, “I understand that there are people who are affected by this who may have just read about it in the paper. Or maybe a child looked at their mommy and said, ‘Mommy, are you ever going to shoot me?’ I know this could happen and I apologize for what happened, what I did.”
— Erin Maloney (@ErinOnTV) May 9, 2014
Judge Battles then addressed the court, “It’s almost too much for us to comprehend what brings us here. Regrettably, there’s nothing this court can say or do to bring comfort to all those touched by this tragedy.”
After the verdict was read, former Army Col. Parker Schenecker, Julie Schenecker’s ex-husband and father of the deceased, gave a brief statement to a slew of reporters. “Today’s decision, for many reasons, gives my family a great sense of relief,” he said. “As I have consistently mentioned for the past three years, the most important thing in all of this is Calyx and Beau, my lovely children, my smart, beautiful, loved and missed children.”
— WFLA NEWS (@WFLA) May 16, 2014
Prosecutors were initially seeking the death penalty in the case, though Schenecker’s history of mental illness spared her from capital punishment.
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