TAMPA – Hours after her children were shot to death, Julie Schenecker was asked by detectives about the blood on her hands.
“I tried to hug my kids,” she said, “and tell them, 'I'll see you again in heaven if ever get to go to heaven.'''
Shenecker's recorded statement to detectives was played for jurors Wednesday at her trial, where jurors are to decide whether she is guilty of murdering her son and daughter, Beau, 13, and Calyx, 16, on Jan. 27, 2011, or if she was insane at the time.
The prosecution rested late Wednesday. The defense is scheduled to begin presenting evidence Friday after a day off.
Court was delayed Wednesday morning while a doctor was summoned because Schenecker reported feeling numbness in her legs. The trial resumed after her attorneys told Circuit Judge Emmet Lamar Battles that Schenecker was fine.
Later, a seemingly routine issue seemed to derail Schenecker's emotions outside the presence of the jury. Lawyers tried to agree to the identities of the victims, which would save the prosecution from having to prove the names of the two dead children.
When asked by Circuit Judge Emmet Lamar Battles whether she agreed with the stipulation, Schenecker initially hesitated and then said she had been advised to say yes. “We're not playing that game,” the judge said.
At that point, Schenecker became agitated. “Your honor, I understand!” she said as she appeared to weep.
The judge then told the lawyers to talk to their client again, and he left the bench.
In the recorded statement, Schenecker, sounding occasionally confused and sometimes incoherent, describes how she planned to kill her children and then herself because she was fed up with their “sassy” attitudes toward her, that she was angry because they would “bully” her.
Schenecker denied hearing any voices.
“I think I was never happy,” she says on the recording. “I loved them birth through 6… They were mean. They were really mean.”
Det. Gary Sandel testified that although Schenecker slurred her words and even nodded off once or twice during the interview, she gave lucid answers about the killings, which happened about 12 hours before Schenecker was found passed out on the lanai by the pool and about 16 hours before she talked to detectives.
“Beau went first,” she said. “Calyx went second. I sure as hell wanted to go third.”
Jurors also on Wednesday saw video recordings of Schenecker buying the revolver used in the killings. Gun store worker Ralph Monaco testified Schenecker was calm and emotionless when she engaged in what he described as “a normal sale.”
But during the interview with police, she was shaking and at one point asked investigators, “Are my kids coming in later?”
But at another point, when she was asked the condition of her children. Schenecker responded, “They're a mess…I hope they're dead.''
Det. Gary Sandel testified Schenecker was upset and sleepy during the interview. Sandel said he gave her coffee and she spilled some on him because she was shaking.
In the recording, Shenecker described how she was driving Beau to his soccer practice when he spotted the revolver she had purchased days before and picked up that day.
“Beau was leaning down putting on his cleats and he saw the gun,” she said. Beau became upset, she recalled.
“I pull out the gun and he started yelling at me,” she said. “ 'Get rid of that. Put it in your purse. Do something with that gun. If you believe in god, he will send you…to heaven.'''
She fired a bullet first into the windshield and then into the side of her son's head, Schenecker said. “I can't think – I hated shooting him but it's better… It's better than carbon monoxide. That's what I was going to do.”
She explained she initially planned to leave the car in the attached garage with the motor running while the children were in the home. For a reason she didn't explain, she chose instead to shoot the children.
After shooting Beau, she said, she turned the car around and headed home. She parked the minivan inside the garage and went upstairs to where Calyx was doing her homework and shot her.