Julie Schenecker murder trial begins

Tampa, FL -- Jury selection began Monday morning in the 2011 case of a New Tampa mother accused of murdering her two children.

Julie Schenecker is charged with shooting her daughter, 16-year-old Calyx and her son, 13-year-old Beau, while their father, was overseas.

There was no plea deal, as some had speculated. The first order of business for the judge on Monday was to ask both sides whether a deal was something they wanted to present to the court. Both sides said no, and so jury selection in this very emotional, very high profile case is now underway.

PHOTOS: Schenecker crime scene photos
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Many have seen the video of Julie Schenecker trembling uncontrollably the day of her arrest as she was being escorted by police.

On Monday Schenecker, 53, appeared calm, even smiling at one point.

Dressed in a gray suit, and surrounded by her attorneys, Schenecker answered clearly when the judge asked her questions about what was taking place here and the possible consequences.

Tampa detectives say Schenecker told them she had killed her children because they were misbehaved and "mouthy."

The death penalty has been taken off the table in this case, and the children's father, Army Col. Parker Schenecker -- who has been a champion of the children's memory -- is present in the courtroom as well.

Judge Emmett Battles asked Ms. Schenecker, "You understand that we're here, that the charge is first degree premeditated murder?"

"Yes sir," Schenecker answered.

"And you understand," asked the judge, "that if convicted that charge carries a mandatory life in prison sentence and you shall not be eligible for parole?"

"I do, your honor," replied Schenecker.

Julie Schenecker's defense will likely hinge on an insanity plea, making it likely that prospective jurors will be asked sensitive personal questions about issues like mental illness during the jury selection process.

Court watchers say they expect the jury selection process to last about three days. The trial is expected to last two to three weeks.


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