TAMPA, Fla. - A 53-year-old former military mother was convicted Thursday of first-degree murder, with jurors rejecting the argument that she was legally insane when she shot and killed her 13-year-old son and 16-year-old daughter more than three years ago.
Julie Schenecker wiped her nose and eyes, then the bailiffs handcuffed her as the verdict was read after just about an hour of deliberations. She started to cry. She faces a mandatory life sentence, as prosecutors chose not to seek the death penalty. Sentencing was expected Thursday.
Schenecker, a former Army linguist, fatally shot her daughter, Calyx, and son, Beau, in January 2011 while her now ex-Army officer husband, Col. Parker Schenecker, was on a 10-day deployment to the Middle East.
Parker and his mother looked sad and exhausted as the verdict was read Thursday. Julie Schenecker's sister cried softly.
All six mental health experts who testified said Schenecker was mentally ill, but three experts called by prosecutors said she was legally sane when she shot her children.
Defence attorneys said Schenecker is so affected by bipolar disorder and depression that she doesn't know right from wrong. Under Florida law, the inability to tell right from wrong is one of the criteria for a not guilty by reason of insanity plea.
Her attorney, Jennifer Spradley, told jurors they needed to consider Schenecker's state of mind when she pulled the trigger, that she was suffering from such severe depression and manic depression that she didn't understand what she was doing.
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