Tampa, FL -- Jury selection is underway in the 2011 case of a New Tampa mother accused of murdering her two children.
Julie Schenecker, 53, is charged with shooting 16-year-old Calyx and her younger brother, 13-year-old Beau while their father Army Col. Parker Schenecker was serving overseas in Qatar.
Speculation that a plea deal might be reached was quickly doused, as both prosecution and defense told the court there is no deal on the table. The judge then explained to Schenecker the gravity of the charges, and that if convicted, she might spend the rest of her life in prison.
Selecting a jury for the highly-emotional case is proving to be challenging. With the death penalty off the table and no last-minute plea deal reached, jury selection got underway on Monday morning.
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Ms. Schenecker appeared calm in court, appearing calm, even smiling occasionally. She was dressed in a gray suit and surrounded by her attorneys.
It was a far cry from the image of Schenecker the day of her arrest in January 2011, when she was dressed in a white jumpsuit, escorted by police as she trembled uncontrollably.
Schenecker answered clearly when the judge asked her questions.
"You shall not be eligible for parole, you understand that?" asked Circuit Judge Emmett Battles.
"I do, your honor," answered Schenecker.
Parker Schenecker sat silently in court watching the jury selection process.
The challenge may be to find a panel of 12 jurors and four alternates who haven't formed an opinion about the case.
"There's no doubt in my mind that she shot her children, and that she's guilty of that crime," said prospective Juror 20, who was ultimately dismissed. "It may not be first degree murder, but this is a first degree murder trial," he said.
When asked to stand if they had at least heard something about the case before today, nearly nine out of 10 prospective jurors got up.
With the trial estimated to take three weeks, several jurors also told the court that serving would create a personal or financial hardship: a man caring for his elderly father; an out-of-work laborer searching for a job; a woman planning a wedding and closing on a new home in the coming days.
Julie Schenecker's defense will likely hinge on an insanity defense, and so jurors who make it past the initial phase will also probably face personal questions about issues regarding mental illness.
The jury selection is expected to take three days. The trial is expected to last three weeks.
More on the Julie Schenecker case:
- New Tampa mom accused of murdering her children
- Julie Schenecker pleads not guilty
- Documents tell more about Julie Schenecker's home life
- Scheneckers officially divorced
- PHOTOS: Schenecker crime scene photos
- Calyx Schenecker remembered on graduation day
- Psychologist: Mental illness drove Schenecker to kill
- Parker Schenecker one-on-one with Reggie Roundtree
- Julie Schenecker will not face death penalty
- New audio recordings released in Schenecker arrest
- Jury selection proves to be challenging
- Schenecker trial begins
- Ex-husband takes the stand
- Shocking Julie Schenecker statement played in court
- GUILTY: Schenecker sentenced to life in prison