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Mouthy Mom Verdict: Guilty of Murder

Aired May 15, 2014 - 19:00:00   ET


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... pat other on the back. You want to scream and yell and say, "We got him. We got him."

JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, HOST: Tonight, breaking news in the Mouthy Mom murder trial. There is a verdict. The jury reached a decision in just a short time. And any second now, we will know what that decision is.

Ironically, the defendant started crying as soon as the jury got the case.

And in a very shocking move, during closing arguments -- and by the way, we`re looking at live pictures right now. There is the defendant, Julie Schenecker, the so-called Shaky Mom. The defense blamed her husband, saying if Parker Schenecker would have only noticed this woman`s rapidly deteriorating mental condition, this soccer mom would not have been in a position to execute their teenage children. So that was a blame-the- husband strategy.

Did the jury buy it or will they find Julie Schenecker guilty of murdering her two kids and throw her behind bars for life?

Now, a verdict has been reached. They`re standing in the courtroom. Let`s go into the courtroom, and I am joined by Nancy Grace to watch and listen.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everyone be seated. And who is our foreperson? That would be Mr. Charles Madison. Is that correct, sir?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Has the jury reached a verdict?

MADISON: Yes, sir.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Would you please hand that verdict to the bailiff?

The court has reviewed the verdict form, finds it in order. I`m going to hand this to the clerk of the court. I`ll direct first that the clerk review the verdict form and advise the bench whether he finds it in order. Following that, I`ll direct you to post the verdict.

Ms. Schenecker and counsel, will you please rise?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I reviewed the verdict and I find it in order, Judge.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Post the verdict.

MADISON: State of Florida versus Julie Schenecker, case 11 CF-001376, trial Division III. We, the jury, find as follows to count one of the charge. The defendant is guilty of first-degree murder. The defendant did actually possess and discharge a firearm, causing death.

We, the jury, find as follows to count two of the charge. The defendant is guilty of first-degree murder. The defendant did actually possess and discharge a firearm causing death. So say we all, dated this 15 day, May, 2014. Charles Madison, foreperson of the jury.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Madison, is that indeed the jury`s verdict?

MADISON: Yes, sir.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do counsel wish to have the jury polled?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Clerk will now poll the jury.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sherry Kendall (ph), is this your verdict?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Charles Madison, is this your verdict?

MADISON: Yes, sir.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Trent Lohan (ph), is this your verdict?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tina Campo (ph), is this your verdict?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mario Thomas, is this your verdict?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Donna Williams, is this your verdict?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ricky Ramos, is this your verdict?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: John Hart (ph), is this your verdict?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Julian Sykes (ph), is this your verdict?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Barbara Hawkins, is this your verdict?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: William Cheslowitz (ph), is this your verdict?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And James Hall, is this had your verdict?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. Thank you. You may be seated.

Anything from the state or defense before I give discharge instructions to our jury?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, your honor.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And with that, members of the jury...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Guilty. Guilty murder one. Nancy Grace, this was one of the fastest returns of a verdict that I have ever seen, right up there and even faster perhaps, than the O.J. Simpson verdict. What do you make of it?

NANCY GRACE, HLN ANCHOR: To those of you had just joining us tonight, a stunning verdict in that Tampa courtroom. Julie Schenecker has just been found guilty on the two main counts, murder one.

Now this jury had a choice of multiple decisions. They could have gone with lessers such as murder two, manslaughter, voluntary manslaughter, involuntary manslaughter. They could have come back with not guilty by reason of insanity, which would have sent Julie Schenecker to a treatment facility, possibly for the rest of her life.

But instead, they have opted to go with guilty. They have completely rejected the insanity defense by that finding. They completely rejected the theory that voluntary consumption of drugs and alcohol will equal insanity.

And if you noticed, in the courtroom, Julie Schenecker sitting there as this verdict came in, completely in control of her faculties. She didn`t seem surprised by the verdict. She slowly held the Kleenex up to her face, and that`s it. There was no shaking. There was no outburst. Clearly, the woman we saw that day that was shaking at the time of the incident is not the woman we are seeing now.

Was it a ruse? Was it an act for police? That we`ll never know.

But what we do know, Jane Velez, is that this jury has returned a verdict on the two most serious counts, which leads me to speculate, if the state had stuck with the death penalty, would they have given the death penalty?

And there you see Schenecker again, standing at attention in the courtroom, clearly understanding what`s happening. Look at the look she`s giving the jury. If that look could kill, that jury would be just as dead as her two children. The way she is looking at them was looking at them with pure hatred, the way she looked at them. And there it goes again. It`s unmistakable Jane.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: It is absolutely. And this defense argument trying to blame her husband, who was serving, as you know, Nancy, our nation overseas in Afghanistan when his wife slaughtered their children, I found that absolutely outrageous. I think this is a victory for common sense as a recovering alcoholic with 19 years of sobriety, I know what it`s like to ignore rehab, and that`s exactly what this woman did. She chose not to take advantage of the help that would have allowed her to deal with her mental condition.

Yes, she had bipolar. Yes, she was depressed, but that`s not the same thing as being legally insane at the time of executing your kids. And I think the prosecution, Nancy, made a very strong argument.

GRACE: What is the judge saying, Jane? Can we dip back into the courtroom?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I will now adjudge you guilty of the offenses to which you were guilty and ask the clerk to record the verdict, and I will simply turn to counsel and ask if there is any reason we shouldn`t proceed with sentencing.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Judge, based on the information (ph) that I have presented I would just like an opportunity to file any post-verdict motions. I`ve asked for a short delay of a week or two in order to ensure that those matters are heard before sentencing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don`t find any such reasons for delay to be justified.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Counsel, whether I proceed to sentencing now or whether I don`t, it doesn`t change your ability to file any inappropriate motions based upon what you indicated at the bench. So for that reason, I`m not prepared to delay sentencing under the circumstances. So anything else?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right. I guess we`re prepared to proceed to sentencing. And you want a few minutes? Otherwise, I`m prepared to hear from counsel.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, can your honor. If I could have a few minutes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How long do you need?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`m going to hear whatever both sides wish to present on the record as we proceed.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`ll step up. Let me know when you`re ready.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Nancy, what do you make of this rapid fire proceeding to sentencing?

GRACE: Frankly, it`s not unusual. Usually, defendants are sentenced immediately upon the conviction. In cases that make it to TV, very often they`ll set the sentencing off to another day. But typically, when the sentence for murder one is mandatory life behind bars. Now, sometimes there`s wiggle room as to possibility of parole.

But the reality is, it`s a mandatory sentence. So what`s he going to do? There`s a mandatory sentence here. I mean, what is the argument going to be? The very first thing they`re going to do is try to get a motion for a new trial. And that can be filed immediately or within 30 days. But it`s very rare that a judge is going to overrule his or her own rulings during the trial so that normally doesn`t work.

Then you go up to an appellate court. For everybody watching right now, the attorneys are huddling with Julie Schenecker as they wait for the judge to come back on the bench and sentence. We are, of course, expecting life behind bars.

Also, very often, they wait to let all the family assemble. They get calls on the phone. They get texts. They come back to the courthouse. But a long delay is usually not heard of. For those of you just joining us...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Hey, Nancy, I want to...

GRACE; Go ahead.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I just wanted to ask you this. This came back so quickly. They barely had a chance to pick a foreperson. There were several options that they had. Is it possible that had in an appeal, the defense is going to go for jury nullification almost as if they didn`t sit down and consider, they barely would have had a chance to read the jury instructions with the speed with which they came back, Nancy.

GRACE: Well, actually, jury nullification is not typically a legal grounds for a reversal. A ground for reversal is along the lines of an error in the law that occurred during the trial.

What they would be arguing legally to try to express what you`re saying would be insufficient evidence, insufficient evidence to support their verdict or an inconsistent jury verdict.

Now, inconsistent jury verdict is not going to work here, because there are only two main counts. There`s nothing inconsistent. They are going to argue on appeal that there was insufficient evidence to support this verdict.

What I find interesting is what`s happening in court right now. If we could take that in full because what you see, Julie Schenecker is right now in handcuffs. They just came over and handcuffed her. Now if you`ll notice throughout these proceedings, Schenecker has not been handcuffed, because they don`t want the jury to see her cuffed and that give them a bad impression in their mind, even if it`s subconscious, and they use that in their deliberations. That`s over. She is now.


GRACE: Yes. And I just wanted to mention that Alexis Weed, who is your producer, has done such a fantastic job, has been inside court. So we`re going to hear from her in a second.

But there, you`re absolutely right, Nancy. Take a look at the jangling chains. The reality is hitting her and if she thought she could get away with this and say, "Well, oh, I was insane" because she had bipolar -- it`s an insult, by the way, to anyone who`s ever had by polar. There are many people who are functioning productively in society who have bipolar and depression who don`t go on to kill. I think this was really -- and I`d love to get your thoughts, Nancy -- such a victory for common sense and that you can`t use mental illness as carte blanche to commit violence.

GRACE: Well, that`s so often the case whenever insanity is used. It`s basically when someone is caught red-handed, and they don`t have a backup. They go for insanity or temporary insanity.

What`s happening right now is what I`m trying to get to before we lose this moment. Right now, the lawyers are huddling with her to talk about what, if anything, they`re going to argue to the judge to try and dissuade him from a mandatory sentence. And yes, it can happen.

Now, if this judge doesn`t give the mandatory sentence under the law, the state will do an automatic appeal, because the judge is bound in the sentencing. And I`m expecting the judge to come out shortly. But right now, look at Schenecker.

Now, what does this prove? This proves that all of her claims of insanity and mental detect are B.S., because look at her. She`s not freaking out. She`s not screaming. Nothing. She`s not shaking the way she tried to appear to shake.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: She`s crying. She`s crying because her life, is flashing before her, and it`s interesting, Nancy, how she cries when it`s about her. She cries when it`s about her. And to me, that`s a malignant narcissist who is absolutely, absolutely rational.

GRACE: I don`t know about that. I`m just a trial lawyer. I don`t know about, you know, diagnosing her mental illness. But I do know, Jane, she was not diagnosed. When she went to rehab just before the shootings, she was there for booze and drugs. That`s why she was there.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Exactly. Exactly.

GRACE: And those professionals, who involve psychiatrists, psychologists, counselors, therapists, they gave her freedom. They would not have the let her walk out if she had been schizophrenic, suicidal, homicidal. That wouldn`t have happened.

And so to fall back on that, I think, was a double-edged sword. They`re showing that she was getting treatment, but the reality is that treatment was for voluntary consumption of alcohol and drugs. That`s not a defense under the law. And you mentioned something earlier.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I agree with you 100 percent, Nancy. We`ve got to go to a break, I`m being told, but I agree with you 100 percent. Again as a recovering alcoholic, I believe this woman chose alcohol and drugs over her family. It was a conscious choice.

Her husband put her into rehab, gave her another chance. She was furious that he put her into rehab, wanted to leave after a couple of days, and was extremely resentful at her children for complaining about her, which was one of the reasons she went into rehab, along with having a car accident. She`s the one who chose to start drinking after she got out of rehab and mixing her very powerful mood-altering medications with booze, which you`re not supposed to do. That was her decision. She can`t turn around and say, "Oh, well that`s mental illness." That`s a conscious choice. That`s what the prosecution successfully argued.

And I think this jury came down with the right decision. Very honored to be with Nancy Grace tonight on this very, very momentous occasion of this verdict coming down. We`re going to take a short break, and then we`re going to be back. Sentencing any moment now.


MADISON: State of Florida versus Julie Schenecker, case 11 CF-001376, trial Division III. We, the jury, find as follows to count one of the charge. The defendant is guilty of first-degree murder. The defendant did actually possess and discharge a firearm, causing death.

We, the jury, find as follows to count two of the charge. The defendant is guilty of first-degree murder. The defendant did actually possess and discharge a firearm causing death. So say we all, dated this 15 day, May, 2014. Charles Madison, foreperson of the jury.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Madison, sir, is that indeed the jury`s verdict?

MADISON: Yes, sir.




MADISON: We, the jury find as follows as to count one of the charge. The defendant is guilty of first-degree murder. The defendant did actually possess and discharge a firearm causing death.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Guilty, murder one, in the killing of her son Beau, 13 years old. Guilty, murder one, in the slaughter of her daughter age 16, Calyx. This was a very, very quick verdict.

I want to go to Alexis Weed, HLN producer, who was in the courtroom. I think it was something like two hours. We barely heard jury instructions, and it seemed like wow, they came back so fast. Tell us what was going on in the courtroom.

ALEXIS WEED, HLN PRODUCER (via phone): Holy cow, that`s right. Just under two hours, one of the fastest verdicts I`ve ever seen in a big case like this.

Eight men and four women jurors, they made the decision that she was guilty on count one as to Beau, count two as to Calyx. Guilty of first-degree murder. They made no mention at all of the insanity defense. And so that`s when we knew at that point that that`s all that was going to be read, just guilty first-degree murder, period with a firearm, which is an enhancing factor.

So yes, there was a ton of emotion in the courtroom, but the one person whom we didn`t see emotion from is Julie Schenecker. I didn`t see any tears if there were any. It was her defense attorney, who was standing next to her, trying to console her. She`s the one who was tearing up.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, it`s an absolutely fascinating, fascinating turnaround. And I did actually watching the feed -- and sometimes it`s easier to see on camera -- I saw her put her tissue to her eyes at the moment that the jury got the case which you know, it`s really all about her.

And I want to go back to Nancy Grace. And Nancy, you have so much experience with this. To me this was about, obviously, whether she was legally insane, didn`t know right from wrong or whether she is a cold- blooded killer.

Now the defense psychologist testified, "Well, you know, if you kill your kids, you have to be insane." But that`s not really true. I thought the prosecution made great arguments that she planned this. There was journal entries about her planning a Saturday night massacre. She also lied to the gun shop owner, saying, oh, she needed the gun for protection. She was afraid of home invasions, all of them lies. Doesn`t that show that she knew right from wrong?

GRACE: Well, yes, I don`t think this ever was an issue as to a whodunit. This was always a motive case.

And the premeditation, especially found in her journals, to my mind, showed that she had planned this. Also her behavior at the gun shop. I talked at length with the gun shop owner, who described her and the way she came in.

You know what`s interesting right now is look at Schenecker. For anybody that had a doubt as to her mental illness, look at her. Speaking coherently, behaving coherently. Her lawyers flanking her on either side. That is the Julie Schenecker that killed those children, not the woman portrayed by the defense team that was bipolar; they tried to say schizophrenic. They tried every trick in the book. It did not work with this jury.

As a matter of fact, there was one juror that I observed in the courtroom as I sat there, who was slumped back watching. It was -- clearly, he had already made up his mind. And I also think that it may have hurt Julie Schenecker not to take the stand. I really do.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Oh really? Really? Because I would think, since you`re saying that she`s acting rational now, acting in a rational fashion, if she had taken the stand, any antics to pretend to be crazy might have been something the jurors could see through. So I find that interesting.

GRACE: Well, of course, that`s always a danger, but if she had described her state of mind that day, if she could have pulled it off.

But relying on psychologists that are basically rendering a decision based on other state doctors that have actually treated you, I don`t think they had a snowball`s chance in you-know-where to get a -- an insanity verdict here.

And again, this Julie Schenecker you`re seeing right now is who I saw in the courtroom. This is the last thing that Calyx and Beau saw: their mother with a gun.

VELEZ-MITCHELL; And I have to tell you that I believe this is a story of somebody who didn`t want to be in this marriage.

You know, she wasn`t depressed until about a year after she got married. She was a Russian linguist and interrogator working for the U.S. military with a very exciting career. She gets married, meets Parker Schenecker, her husband, who was also in the military in Europe. They get married. About a year later, she starts suffering from depression, and then she starts getting help, getting treatment for bipolar and depression. She starts taking drugs, and then she starts drinking.

So my personal belief is that, if she had done more therapy -- I`m trying to understand. Maybe she was upset because she became a soccer mom when she really wanted to be in the military with an exciting career. She felt kind of abandoned by her husband, who was still going overseas, not to blame him whatsoever.

But if she had wanted to get out of the marriage, she should have talked to her therapist and gotten out of the marriage, as opposed to just allowing herself to deteriorate in a situation she didn`t want to be in, which caused increased depression.

Then you add the heavy-duty meds that she was given by a variety of doctors possibly. I can`t imagine any one doctor prescribing all those different meds including hydrocodone, oxycodone, lithium, et cetera, et cetera. And then she starts drinking on top of it. Well, that, of course, is a prescription for disaster.

So to me, Nancy, this is a cautionary about how not to handle a troubled marriage. If you don`t want to be a soccer mom, then don`t be a soccer mom but don`t become a depressed alcoholic drug-addict soccer mom who then kills your kids.

GRACE: OK. I`m going to take that as a question.

The reality is this. She didn`t want a divorce. She was angry, because she thought Parker Schenecker was going to leave her. And in my mind, and based on the evidence that I saw, this was a get-back at Parker Schenecker. Killing his children, what he loved the most.

In fact, after she murders them, she writes him, "hurry home. we`re waiting on you."

She tried to manipulate her daughter`s face into a smile. So when the father came in, that`s what he would see.

This was all a get back at him, because she thought he was leaving her. That`s the way I read the evidence.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. And I agree with you in that sense on the surface, but as the shrinks say, things are multi-determined. On a very deep level, I don`t think she wanted to be in the marriage. I think she felt trapped in the marriage. And because she was trapped in the marriage, then to be rejected on top of it, sparked a tremendous amount of rage and anger. "Oh, you`re going to turn me into a soccer mom and then you`re going to reject me afterwards?"

GRACE: See, I didn`t -- That`s interesting because I guess that`s what the jurors argue over, because I didn`t hear a bit of that come into the courtroom in evidence, that she wanted out of the marriage.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: No, I just think she...

GRACE: ... didn`t want Parker Schenecker to leave the marriage.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, but what I`m saying is, looking back at her history, and if you notice that the depression begins after she gets married and after she ceases to have an exciting career, what I extrapolate from that is that she was in an unhappy situation, that she wasn`t meant to be a soccer mom.

And instead of just making a change in her lifestyle, she became -- she was throwing good money after bad. She was getting more deeply invested in the situation that she ultimately did not feel suited her, and that`s why she became depressed and alcoholic. and ultimately, that`s why she misused her prescription meds, because she was trying to escape. She was trying to self-medicate.

But I think it`s fascinating that we see different things. And we`re going to take a short break. We are waiting for the sentencing, and I`m so -- we`re going to bring it to you live in a second.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. We`re going back in the courtroom. It appears that Julie Schenecker may speak now.

JULIE SCHENECKER, CONVICTED OF MURDERING HER CHILDREN: I apologize. I apologize to everybody in this courtroom who have broken their lives. I have destroyed, I have -- they couldn`t collect themselves as best as possible all of us, not just this courtroom.

Anybody who knew our family, Calyx and Beau, our children`s friends, teachers, coaches, our relatives, Calyx and Beau`s aunts, cousins, grandparents, uncles, nieces, nephews, everyone has been so deeply affected, and I understand there are people who are affected by this that may have just read about it in the paper. Maybe a child looked at their mommy and said, "Mommy, are you ever going to shoot me?" I know that this could have happened and I apologize for what happened. What I did.

I take responsibility. I was there. I know. I know I shot my son and daughter. I don`t know why. But I`ve had a period of time to try to understand that.

Your honor, the judicial system in the United States is the best in the world. We don`t lash our women 125 times for driving when they`re not supposed to drive. I`m proud to stand here in front of you as I understand you might have -- be part of service, as well and to serve my country, and I proudly stand the first code of conduct as a soldier in `83.

It said I`m -- I said I`m an American fighting man serving in the forces which protect my country and our way of life, and I am prepared to give my life in their defense. I said that proudly. It changed. We`re no longer fighting them. We`re fighting in the forces which protect our country.

I trust and I believe in you, what you`ve done. You`ve run a great court. I have no experience but from what I`ve seen, you control the court tremendously well. I thank my attorneys who have supported me, and I trusted them, and they worked so well and all those people behind me on my team put in many, many hours on this case. I will never be able to repay all these people. I have no way to repay them but to say thank you. So thank you to the entire American judicial system. I am not playing, your honor. That is heartfelt.

JUDGE: Thank you, ma`am. Any questions from --

SCHENECKER: I have one more. I know our children are in heaven. I want people to try to find comfort in believing as I do that they are in no pain and they are alive and enjoying everything and anything heaven has to offer. Jesus, protect me now by keeping them safe until we get there. And their loved ones follow us.

That`s all, your honor. I appreciate you letting me speak.

JUDGE: Ma`am, questions counsel?




JUDGE: Anything else from either party?



JUDGE: Almost too much for most to comprehend what brings us here and regrettably, there`s nothing this court can say or do that`s going to bring comfort to all those that have been touched by this tragedy. Miss Schenecker, as the law requires as to Count One for the first degree premeditated murder of Beau Schenecker, you are adjudicated guilty and sentenced to imprisonment for life and you shall not be eligible for parole.

As pursuant to Florida statute 775.082, I believe it`s part of statute 775.087 based upon the possession and discharge of the firearm causing death also requires an imposition of a minimum mandatory of 25 years as to that count and hereby imposed.

As to Count Two for the first degree premeditated murder of Calyx Schenecker, you are adjudicated guilty and sentenced to life imprisonment and you shall not be eligible for parole again pursuant to Florida statute 775.082 also as required by Florida statute 775.087 25-year minimum mandatory as imposed as required for the possession and discharge of a firearm causing death.

Those sentences are concurrent one count to the other. As required by statute all mandatory court costs are imposed as well as the $100 cost of prosecution and $50 public defender application fee, $100 public defender fee and costs.

Ma`am, you have the right to appeal. If you do so it has to be done within 30 days. If you can`t afford a lawyer for that, one can be appointed for you. For fingerprints required to be taken in the presence of the court when she accessed the courtroom.

Have I touched on everything, counsels?





VELEZ-MITCHELL: Wow. What an extraordinary moment in court. As this convicted murder, convicted of the premeditated first degree murder of her two children, 13-year-old Beau and 16-year-old Calyx speak out right before sentencing and what she said was absolutely extraordinary.

There she is now in cuffs being processed. She will spend the rest of her life behind bars not eligible for parole. But what she said was so extraordinary and at times it was hard to hear exactly what she said -- very emotional. "I apologize to everyone in this courtroom not just the people in this courtroom but to teachers, to coaches, to grandparents, to uncles," she made a long list, everyone she so deeply affected. And she said that she took responsibility. "I know I shot my son and daughter."

It`s just absolutely unbelievable. Then she sort of goes into this tirade about, well, I compliment the judicial system. I think that the judge, you did a good trial. You served your country just like I served my country.

I want to go to Dr. Robi Ludwig, psychotherapist. You know, I would love to get your analysis of what was really going on behind that I would have to say bizarre, bizarre statements prior to sentencing.

DR. ROBI LUDWIG, PSYCHOTHERAPIST: What I found so striking was when Julie said, "I know my kids are in heaven now. And they`re not feeling any pain. And they can have whatever they want."

So there`s this distortion about death that this woman has, which I found very fascinating. It doesn`t take away responsibility for what this woman did. It`s unconscionable. But the fact that she really believes that her kids are in a better place as a result of being dead is very disturbing to me.

And it makes me wonder if this woman Julie felt that life was so painful. I think she was enraged with her kids. I think she wanted to punish her husband. But after walking away, she still feels that her kids are in a better place, which is very odd.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, I don`t know if I buy it, to be honest with you, Dr. Robi. Of course, I respect your opinion. I think people often say, well, when somebody passes away that they`re in heaven and it`s a better place. I think that`s almost cliche talk in a way. And just part of her justifying minimalizing, rationalizing the unthinkable thing that she did. As the judge said, it`s almost too much to comprehend why we are here.

Whoa. We`ve got an expert panel and this is not over. I mean, it`s over. But it`s absolutely extraordinary that all of this happened so quickly. They are still in the courtroom.

We`re going to go to Alexis Weed on the other side. I want to know who was in the courtroom, and I want to ask our panel, did I hear that she did not say anything to her ex-husband, the one who lost his two kids? I didn`t hear it. Is that very significant?

Stay right there. Back in a moment.



SCHENECKER: I apologize to everybody in this courtroom who I have broken their lives. I have destroyed. I have (inaudible) themselves as best as possible all of us. Not just this courtroom. Anybody who knew our family, Calyx and Beau, our children`s friends, teachers, coaches.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Wow. Unbelievable. We`re going to do round robin reaction guilty premeditated murder, murder one of Julie Schenecker going away for life without the possibility of parole. Our panel has been listening to all of this starting with Areva Martin, reaction.

AREVA MARTIN, ATTORNEY: Not surprised, Jane, that she was found guilty but I do agree with Dr. Robi that the fact that she continues to talk about her kids being in a better place, I think she really did think she was doing something good for her kids by killing them. She was afraid that the son was going to be sexually molested. She was afraid that the daughter was developing bipolar disorder like she had. I think she was having a hard time distinguishing right from wrong. Not going to disagree with the jury`s verdict but I do think there`s something to this woman`s psychotic state that is evidenced by the statement.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: You know, I respectfully couldn`t disagree with you more. I think this is a woman who made a very evil choice, Nora Constance Marino attorney out of New York. And yes, she had some mental illness. Many people have bipolar, many people are depressed. That doesn`t mean you don`t know right from wrong.

NORA CONSTANCE MARINO ATTORNEY: Jane I agree with you 100 percent. I think she absolutely knew right from wrong. I think this verdict was right on. I think the fact that in her apologies, her leaving out her husband speaks volumes because I think a good motivation of this murder was to get back at her husband or to hurt her husband. That`s where the premeditation comes in and that`s where the first degree murder conviction comes in.

I think that whole spiel about complimenting the court really, you`re complementing the court and you`re giving advice to other parents to love their children? I think it was a bunch of BS, frankly.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And by the way, her now ex-husband Parker Schenecker is walking downstairs to hold a news conference. We`re going to bring it to you any moment. Stay right there. It`s about to happen.

Remember, the defense tried to blame him. But first we`re going to go to Ana Quincoces, attorney out of Miami, also star of "Real Housewives of Miami".

ANA QUINCOCES, "REAL HOUSEWIVES OF MIAMI": I absolutely think that justice was served here. Did I just hear this woman who looks completely lucid by the way, negate her entire defense in her statement like she knew what she was doing, she took responsibility? I think the prosecution did a terrific job. I think the defense -- it was a risky move to blame Parker. I think that she probably should have taken the stand if that`s all they had.

But in the end, justice was absolutely served I think that this woman deserves consecutive life sentences and should spend the rest of her life in prison thinking about what she did to her children Iran.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Alexis Weed, HLN producer, has been in court for all this. Tell us about the emotion in court. I mean my jaw dropped when I saw that she was going to make a statement. This is a woman who did not take the stand in her own defense. Now I guess you might say she doesn`t have to prove that she`s insane so she can just be who she is which is a relatively rationale woman who made a relatively coherent statement even if you don`t agree with it or think it`s full of BS.

WEED: Yes, pretty coherent statement for sure. And you know, as this was being read as Schenecker was being handcuffed her mother was there sitting behind her and she had both of her hands up over her head on both sides of her temples, just very upset. She was as I said fingerprinted. She was shackled.

And yes, saying she took responsibility, I don`t know. It was really hard to take that in and listen to these words that seemed pretty cogent from one someone we`ve heard for many, many days now testimony really didn`t know what she was doing.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: We`re going to take a very short break. Parker Schenecker, the father of these two slain kids, the ex-husband of this woman, who was serving our country in Afghanistan when she slaughtered the kids is about to hold a news conference. Remember, the defense tried to blame him. Tried to say, well, if he was really involved, you know, this was a frustrated father who tried to do -- ok, he`s speaking now. We`re going to go to it now.

PARKER SCHENECKER, FATHER OF CALYX AND BEAU: Over the past three years, it`s been a trying time for all of us, and you continued to honor us with your kindness.

I`ll start with what I`ve said many times in the past which is I`ve defended our justice system for nearly 30 years. And I deeply believe that we have the best system in the world. Having participated in the process over the last three weeks has confirmed the fairness of our legal system.

I`d also like to personally thank the state attorney`s office for their untiring efforts to represent the people of Florida in this case and for ensuring the beginning of the process and my family and I -- since the beginning of the process that my family and I were always kept up to date and well cared for by the victim`s assistance office.

Today`s decision for many reasons gives my family a great sense of relief. As I`ve consistently mentioned over the past three years, the most important thing in all of this is Calyx and Beau, my lovely children. My smart, Beautiful, loved and missed daughter and son.

Giving voice to them has been my priority throughout this entire process. And their voices have been heard due to the efforts of many. I`d also be remiss if I didn`t thank the students, parents and faculty of king high school and liberty middle school for their continued support and love of Calyx and Beau.

And while this decision doesn`t bring my children back, it does give our family an opportunity to move forward. And honor their memory with the important work that we`ve been doing with Calyx and Beau Schenecker Memorial Fund and remembering how they lived.

Thank you.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you, sir.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Wow. Dignity, dignity, grace, that is the definition of courage.

Dr. Robi Ludwig, this man had every right to be rageful, to be angry.

LUDWIG: Absolutely, absolutely.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And he didn`t. He was really pure in that statement and it just -- it fills me with emotion. His dignity actually makes me feel for him more in the sense that you can tell what he is holding back.

LUDWIG: He`s a very classy guy. And just one more statement about his ex- wife -- I had the idea that she likes not being a mother. And like the idea that she is going to be in prison the rest of her life. She can be taken care of. And I think this is a woman who felt she wasn`t capable of being a mother, couldn`t do it, and that`s why she is where she is -- one of the reasons.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: We`ll never get inside her mind. But she made choices. And again, I say this as a recovering alcoholic with 19 years of sobriety. She made choices. Her husband, you just heard from, tried to help her. He was very frustrated. He said, what do you do with a 50-year-old who acts like a 10-year-old?

He got her into rehab. He tried to protect the kids. He was in the process of sending his daughter Calyx to a boarding school to get her away from this woman. How dare the defense point the finger at him?

We`re going to be back in a moment with more. Stay right there.



J. SCHENECKER: I apologize to everybody in this courtroom, who I have broken their lives. I have destroyed. They can collect (ph) themselves as best as possible, all of us. Not just this courtroom, anybody who knew our family, Calyx and Beau -- our children`s friends, teachers, coaches, relatives --


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Guilty, murder one. Premeditated murder on both counts -- the killing of her son Beau, 13 at the time and her daughter Calyx 16; she will go away for life without the possibility of parole.

Nora Constance Marino, attorney out of New York, the fact that she apologized to so many people, but did not apologize to her now ex-husband who just spoke a moment ago. Does that back up the jury`s decision that this was a rational woman who killed her kids out of spite and anger and resentment against her husband?

MARINO: I think so. I think it clearly indicates that this was spite, revenge, anger, hatred. I think you hit the nail on the head. I think this is a woman that had a very promising, exciting career ahead of her. And she chose marriage and children over that career and was sorry about that decision. And instead of handling it in a rational way, she winds up killing her kids and hating her husband.

I think she was dependent on her husband, and needed her husband, that`s why she feared him leaving her. But I think she ultimately hated him. And this was the ultimate way to hurt him.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Areva Martin, attorney, I know you disagree, I want to give you a chance.

MARTIN: Jane -- yes, I disagree, Jane. You know, first of all I have kids, so my heart goes out to this dad. I can`t imagine anyone doing anything to harm my kids.

But just because you don`t like your job as a soccer mom, or you`re unhappy with your marriage, you don`t kill your kids. Six psychologists testified in this case that this woman has severe mental illness. So I think in addition to, you know, celebrating in some ways at this verdict of guilty, we also should use this as a teachable moment about issues of severe mental illness.

This woman, there`s something wrong with her, this isn`t normal behavior, she`s rambling. That`s what I`m hearing in this talk. She`s not a cogent person speaking in cohesive language. She`s rambling. She`s talking about things that are incomprehensible to a court. So I think again, we need to learn something from this case from this statement.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I agree. I agree and I think we need to learn about how drug addiction and alcoholism can take depression and what would have been an otherwise manageable bipolar condition, and turn it into a perfect storm that looks like insanity, but really is at the end of the day, pure evil.

And I want to go to Ana Quincoces, star of "Real Housewives of Miami" and an attorney out of Miami, when you have bipolar, which many people have, it used to be called manic depressive syndrome. A lot of people have it. Depression, a lot of people have it, most people through the course of their life will become depressed over something at some point.

That`s different than being psychotic to the point where you`re hearing voices, hallucinating, think people are talking to you through the walls and think you`re, you know, the princess of some planet that doesn`t exist.

QUINCOCES: Agreed, agreed, Jane. You know, I think that it`s unfortunate that Florida doesn`t have the verdict guilty but with mental illness available. I think that clearly she had some kind of mental illness but was not statutorily legally insane as is required in Florida. I think that`s probably one of the reasons the prosecutors didn`t go after the death penalty in this case because they knew that while she was not legally insane, she was impaired by mental illness.

I think that -- all I can tell you, that I do believe that justice was served in this case, and that it`s really a pity that she succeeded so effectively at killing her kids and failed so miserably at killing herself.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Robi, we only have -- Dr. Robi Ludwig, 30 seconds. I want to give you the final word.

LUDWIG: It`s a tragic situation of a woman who was trying to feel better and figure things out, didn`t know how. Let her rage and irritability get the best of her, and wasn`t able to manage her surroundings. We shouldn`t assume that a mother can rise to the occasion, and be the right mother for her kids. We need to understand, mothers can kill. And maybe that will help with treating them better.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: It is unfortunate that mothers can kill, but they can. It is incomprehensible, but tragically it happens.

Nancy next.