Jury Selection Begins for Soccer Mom Murder Trial
Jury selection is underway in the murder trial of an Army veteran who told police she shot and killed her children because they were “mouthy” and misbehaving.
Julie Schenecker is accused of killing her 13-year-old son while driving him to soccer practice in 2011. Police say she then drove home, parked the van in the garage and shot her 16-year-old daughter twice in the head.
Cops say when they arrived at the family’s home in Tampa, Florida, Schenecker was unconscious in the backyard pool area. She appeared intoxicated and her bathrobe and hands were covered in dried blood, according to authorities.
Prosecutors allege that Schenecker planned out their murders days in advance. Police say she bought a handgun less than a week before the shooting and complained in a letter that the three-day waiting period could delay the massacre.
After her arrest, Schenecker appeared to shake uncontrollably in the arms of police.
Her then-husband, an Army colonel, was serving in Qatar at the time. Today in court, he wore a bracelet with his children’s names on it.
Schenecker’s lawyers are reportedly planning an insanity defense. Fox News reporter Lea Gabrielle said she appeared calm in court today as she took notes.
The challenge now seems to be finding jurors who can be objective about the case. When asked if they had heard about the case before today, nine out of 10 prospective jurors said they had.
Prosecutors have not sought the death penalty, in part because Schenecker has a history of mental illness. The Associated Press has reported that she was diagnosed with depression and bipolar disorder dating back to the 1990s.
Former prosecutor Dan Schorr said, “The question in this case isn’t whether or not she shot and killed her children. And the question isn’t whether or not she has some kind of mental disorder. She clearly does. The question is does that mental disorder rise to the level of a legally viable insanity defense. And there’s a high burden for that, especially in the state of Florida for the defense to meet.”