Schenecker defense starts laying out its case

Tampa, FL -- It's the defense's turn in the murder trial of Julie Schenecker, the New Tampa woman accused of murdering her two teenage children.

Her lawyers say Schenecker was legally insane when she shot and killed 16-year-old Calyx and 13-year-old Beau for being -- in her words -- too "mouthy."

The defense first wanted to hear more about the 53-year-old's behavior by calling the Schenecker family's cleaning lady to the stand.

Michelle Frisco, 43, says she'd been cleaning the Schenecker family's house since they moved into their New Tampa home and that she saw changes in Julie Schenecker's behavior in the months leading up to the murders.

Frisco says Schenecker had confided in her that she had gone through rehab, was diagnosed bipolar, and that she was taking medication.

Schenecker, says Frisco, also told her that her son Beau was becoming more disrespectful, like his sister Calyx. She says Schenecker would often stay in bed while the house was being cleaned.

Around the holidays preceding the murders, Frisco says Parker Schenecker's mother, Nancy had come to help around the house. Julie Schenecker was in bed that day. Nancy reportedly asked Calyx to have her mother get out of bed, so that Frisco could get into the bedroom to clean.

"You said there was a comment made about Nancy being in the home. What did she say?" asked Schenecker's defense lawyer.

"Nancy had asked Calyx to go ask Julie to get up, that I needed to get in there to clean," said Frisco, "and Julie said that she wasn't going to get up until that b**** left," referring to her mother-in-law.

Calyx, says Frisco, simply shook her head and left the room.

Frisco also testified that Schenecker had admitted to drinking more alcohol when her husband Col. Parker Schenecker was out of town deployed, and that she would also drink at the "World of Beer" establishment nearby.

Defense lawyers appeared to try to make it sound like Parker Schenecker was being controlling, but Frisco later admitted there was another reason.

"The defendant admitted to you, did she not, that Parker had a concern about her drinking and driving the kids?"

"Yes," answered Frisco.

"And that's what upset Parker Schenecker about the drinking?"


"She told you that, didn't she?"


When Frisco ended her testimony, defense attorneys called Demian Obregon, a USF psychiatrist, to the stand. Obregon treated Schenecker, who had been diagnosed as bipolar and having chronic mental illness.

He says she had mild "lip-smacking," a side-effect of medication for mood disorders. Obregon says she stopped taking the medication to avoid the lip-smacking and that made things worse.

He says her condition and medications also led her to have leg-jerking, which Schenecker told her had led to insomnia.

In August 2010 he says she began to express vague suicidal thoughts, but when asked about it, said it was against her religion to take her own life.

Schenecker's symptoms fluctuated a bit over the next two months, said Obregon. His weekly sessions with her would typically last about 20 minutes.

Then in November, Obregon says he had no notes to which he could refer. Despite her condition, he says they apparently went the whole month without seeing Schenecker.

On Dec. 1st 2010, Schenecker called to say she needed to see them, and said she had scheduling conflicts that had kept her from coming-in. An appointment two days later indicated her conditions had worsened.

On December 10th, one week later, Obregon's notes show Schenecker had deeper feelings of hopelessness and helplessness.

He says she expressed depressive symptoms severe enough that for the first time Obregon consider "Baker Acting" Schenecker, meaning he believed she might pose a risk to herself or others.

WATCH: Surveillance video shows Julie Schenecker buying gun she allegedly used to murder her children


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