The murder defendant shakes her head as Parker Schenecker takes stand in murder trial

Credit: Eve Edelheit/Tampa Bay Times/ZUMA

On the evening of January 27, 2011, Julie Schenecker sent a chilling email to her then-husband, Parker. “Get home soon,” she wrote. “We’re waiting for you.”

But no one really was. Julie Schenecker had shot the couple’s two children just minutes earlier.

Calyx, 16, was lying on her bedroom floor; her 13-year-old brother, Beau, was dead in the front seat of the family car. Although she claims that she planned to kill herself after the shooting, Schenecker fell asleep on the veranda.

The next morning, she was arrested and charged with two counts of first-degree murder.

As the trial entered its sixth day of testimony Tuesday, Julie Schenecker, 53, was led into the Tampa, Florida, courtroom, her hands cuffed behind her back.

Wearing black slacks and a red sweater, she caught the eye of someone in the gallery. She smiled and winked. It was a surprising display from Schenecker, who has spent most of the trial staring blankly at a legal pad on the defense table.

But the smile was soon replaced by a scowl when Parker Schenecker, 51, took the stand for a second time.

After describing their courtship and wedding, he began to speak of the mental illness that took hold soon after the wedding.

“She had mentioned suicide, but not that she was planning on acting on it,” he testified. “My hope that her energy was too low to do it.”

Schenecker, a retired Army Colonel, testified that his wife’s condition began to deteriorate in the months before the shooting.

In November 2010, she got into a minor car accident while under the influence of alcohol and Oxycontin. As Julie prepared to leave rehab, Parker Schenecker sent her an email. “Pls consider executing a release for [the rehab doctor] to speak with me,” he wrote. Julie Schenecker immediately responded. “Hell, no! Sorry about your luck.”

“He would help with some ideas on how to improve things while keeping your private issues private,” Parker Schenecker replied. “I believe it’s critical for us (all four of us) to get into family counseling immediately.” But his wife refused, and he dropped the topic.

He then turned his attention to the children’s transportation to school. “I must protect them,” he wrote to his wife. “They are telling me they feel unsafe. This is the basic responsibility of a parent. They’ve asked their father for protection; the hard part is that they’ve asked for protection from their mother.”

As she listened to the testimony, Julie Schenecker stared at her ex-husband, slightly shaking her head. She glanced at the jury, many of whom were taking voluminous notes. Then, she sighed and stared at her legal pad once again.

If convicted of first-degree murder, Julie Schenecker will receive a life sentence in prison. If she’s acquitted by reason of insanity, she will be committed to a hospital until she is no longer a danger to herself or others.