Tampa, Florida -- The trial of a New Tampa mother accused of killing her teenage children has taken a dramatic turn, as the children's father, Ret. Army Col. Parker Schenecker, is recalled to the stand.
Julie Schenecker, charged with the children's murders, has been staring at her now-former husband through the course of his testimony.
Parker Schenecker's testimony began with some history of the family moving about before settling in Tampa.
He says Julie was able to form good relationships with a small circle of friends who would participate occasionally in fund-raising and charity work.
Then, Parker says his ex-wife's state began to decline in 2010. She had a DUI accident. She began to exhibit facial tics from medication.
The defense has tried to paint Parker as a disconnected spouse, who would communicate with his troubled wife through email and rarely face-to face.
Parker Schenecker testified that he told Julie after her accident that she was not permitted to drive their children, that he got her a hotel room after she was released from the hospital, and arranged for her to enter rehab.
After her treatment, Col. Schenecker says he urged Julie to apologize to the kids, and through her actions, try to improve their relationship.
Instead, he says Julie became increasingly depressed.
And even though she had invited Parker's mother to help around the house while she recovered, he says Julie now told him that she would only get up and out of bed if his mother were to leave.
"My mother left sometime early in mid-December maybe a day or two after I asked Julie - um I said, 'you really need to get back in with the kids through your actions and re-assimilate with the family and get back involved.' And she said, 'I'll get get out of bed when your mom leaves,' " said Schenecker.
Col. Schenecker says he was unaware that Julie Schenecker was continuing to drink heavily, but says he wrote to her doctors to tell them she may be under-reporting her symptoms to them because she was now speaking of suicide.
He says he never discussed divorce with Julie and never intended to leave her.
Col. Schenecker says in an email to Julie Schenecker's relatives, he described Julie as a 50-year-old woman with the judgment of a 10-year-old because of the way she was handling her relationship with their daughter Calyx.
Defense attorneys tried to insinuate he'd never been very nurturing when it came to his troubled spouse -- preferring to communicate in emails rather than face-to-face.
"I always felt it was better to have things in black and white for her, unemotionally. Where she could read them over and over if she needed to," said Parker.
But Schenecker also testified when he tried to become more involved in his wife's treatment, asking if she'd allow him access to her medical records, she replied in an email, "Hell no, sorry about your luck."
In 2010, Parker says Julie started on a downward spiral: depression, drugs, alcohol abuse. After a DUI accident, he forbid his then-wife from driving their children anywhere and enrolled her in rehab.
"She told me she didn't like being locked up," he said.
Parker Schenecker remained stoic even as he read aloud, a hauntingly ominous email he'd sent to Julie Schenecker just weeks before the murders. It referred to his children – and the DUI accident.
"There is no way in the world that I can just let this go. They've asked their father for protection (the hard part is that they've requested protection from their mother). I know it may be difficult for you to accept, but if I have to suffer you wrath and disappointment in order to meet this need for them I will," he read.
Less than two months later, while deployed overseas, and unable to protect his daughter Calyx and son Beau, Col. Parker Schenecker would receive another email from Julie Schenecker dated the day she'd killed their children.
"She wrote, 'get home soon, we're waiting for you, exclamation point.' "
The defense appeared to be trying to paint Col. Parker Schenecker as unfeeling and unsympathetic to his former wife's condition -- a tactic, perhaps, aimed at gaining sympathy from jurors. But it has not supported the assertion that Schenecker was insane at the time of the children's murders and whether she was unable to discern right from wrong.
To bolster that position, the defense also called Dr. Wade Meyers, who says he believes that Julie Schenecker was legally insane at the time of the killings.
That opinion was shared by the defense's previous two psychiatric experts.
Dr. Meyers, however, testified that he believed Schenecker bought the gun intending to kill herself, and killing the children occurred to her only after the purchase had been made.
The previous two experts said killing the children was Schenecker's plan all along, and that in her mind she would save them by killing them.
For relevant updates throughout the trial you can follow Eric Glasser on Twitter @ericglassertv.