Julie Schenecker's ex-husband takes the stand

Tampa, FL --There were big developments in day two of the Julie Schenecker murder trial, the New Tampa mother accused of killing her two teenage children.

Emotions have been running high in the courtroom as Schenecker's chilling journal entries were read aloud, possibly revealing her motive. Then on Tuesday afternoon, the children's father, Retired Army Col. Parker Schenecker was called to the stand.

He rarely looked at his ex-wife while testifying, referring to the woman who killed their children as "the defendant."

Col. Schenecker's testimony started simply enough, talking about his life prior to January 27 2011: traveling with the military, his marriage, their children, the homes the owned, the cars they drove.

But in 2010, the relationship between Julie Schenecker and her daughter Calyx became in Parker Schenecker's words, "strained." And despite efforts such as family counseling, it did not improve.

"What I said to my ex-wife is that she had to be the adult in the situation," Parker stated under oath.

Before Parker Schenecker was deployed in January of 2011, he says he asked his wife if it would be too much for her to take care of the kids alone.

"The defendant at that time looked me square in the eye and said, 'I got this.'"

Col. Schenecker says he never had concerns about leaving his wife with the kids alone. He says they never had weapons in the house, and never feared crime in their upscale New Tampa neighborhood. On the evening before their deaths, he says he sensed no trouble during a Skype conversation with his children.

"No sir, lots of smiles," he said.

But just a few hours later, Parker Schenecker would find out his children were dead. He was shown photos taken that day, pictures of the family van with their son's body parked in the garage, notes left behind by his ex-wife.

Earlier, a crime-scene investigator for Tampa police read excerpts from Julie Schenecker's journal. She had planned to commit suicide, she wrote, but decided to kill the children too.

The gun was also shown in court Tuesday. The prosecution talked about how difficult, nearly impossible it would be for the Smith and Wesson .38 caliber to fire by accident. Prosecutors were trying to erase any doubt that this was anything but intentional.

Inside the home, Matthew Evans testified he found bottles and bottles of prescription drugs. He counted pills in court. Drugs like Lithium, Oxycodone, and several drugs even people in court found difficult to pronounce.

Defense attorneys then asked Evans to again read excerpts from Julie Schenecker's journal, first revealed on Monday.

The courtroom sat stunned and saddened as Evans spoke of Schenecker's tragic battle with mental issues, her plans to commit suicide, and the apparent reasons she had decided to also take her children's lives.

"Take me home, Lord," wrote Schenecker.

"The best job I ever has was having / bringing up my babies. This is why I had to bring them on with me. It's too possible they've inherited the DNA and lived their lives depressed or bipolar!" Matthews read, "I believe I've saved them from the pain. I wish this on nobody – ever."

Julie Schenecker wrote her daughter Calyx had spoken of suicide from the time she was just 12.

Julie Schenecker also worried that if she took her own life, her children would have to live with the stigma of parent who had killed themselves, making it more likely, she wrote, that they too would one day kill themselves.

"If you're wondering why I decided to take out the kids it's to protect them from embarrassing them for the rest of their lives," Schenecker wrote.

"Parker, I'm sorry, so sorry," she also wrote in the journal, "but I sensed divorce was inevitable. I can't live alone."

Schenecker, who described her children as increasingly "sassy" and "mouthy" also wrote that she felt abandoned by the children.

Julie Schenecker has been wiping away tears during the testimony. Her sister, sitting in the court gallery was also weeping.

Members of Col. Parker Schenecker's family listened with their heads hanging in sadness.

You can follow important developments in the trial by following on Twitter, @ericglassertv.


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