Julie Schenecker murder trial day 7: state rests its rebuttal case, closing arguments Thursday

After calling three doctors to testify Thursday as part of its rebuttal, the state wrapped up its case Wednesday. Closing arguments are set to begin on Thursday morning.  
 
Dr. Randy Otto, a psychologist who said Julie Schenecker knew what she was doing at the time of her children's murders, took the stand first Wednesday.
 
His testimony directly contrasted three defense doctors who testified over the past few days.
 
"I believe Mrs. Schenecker knew what she was doing and knew what she was doing was wrong," Dr. Otto told jurors. "I believe that while, at and around the time of the offenses, Mrs. Schenecker was experiencing symptoms of mental illness, that's the first requirement. I believe she nonetheless knew what she was doing and knew that what she was doing was wrong."
 
Another doctor shared the same view.

"It is my opinion that in both cases she was legally sane at the time of the alleged offenses," said Dr. Donald Taylor, a forensic psychiatrist. "She knew beforehand that what she was going to do would be considered wrong as well as afterwards."
 
>WATCH: Closing arguments in the Julie Schenecker murder trial on Action News Now - starting at 9:45 a.m. Thursday: http://wfts.tv/1jGWUtl 
 
Dr. Barbara Stein, the third and final witness for the state's rebuttal Wednesday, testified that there was no evidence in the records that Schenecker was experiencing psychosis at the time of the murders and, in fact, there was evidence to the contrary.

Schenecker wrecked a car in Nov. 2010 while under the influence, said Stein, and was forced into rehabilitation. Her relationship with her husband and daughter, Calyx, had begun to deteriorate. "Everything had come to a head like nothing before," said Stein, who said Schenecker had harbored anger at her husband and was profoundly affected by her relationship with her daughter.

Stein listed other factors, including an apology note Schenecker wrote to her husband, post-it notes left for the carpool stating the family was on a trip to New York, and a journal entry Schenecker wrote that referred to a "Saturday massacre," as evidence Schenecker was aware she was going to do something wrong.

"It tells you that she has a plan and that she's going to follow through with it," said Stein.
 
Julie Schenecker is charged with two counts of first-degree murder and is pleading not guilty by reason of insanity. The state is not seeking the death penalty and contends Schenecker knew right from wrong when she bought a gun and shot her children, Calyx, 16, and Beau, 13, while her then-husband was on a 10-day deployment to the Middle East in late January 2011.
 
Tuesday, her Army officer ex-husband Parker Schenecker, 51, testified for the defense, then was cross-examined by prosecutors, with testimony lasting more than four hours.
 
He said that over the course of their marriage, Julie had talked about suicide and suffered from depression.
 
"She had mentioned suicide but not that she was planning on acting on it," he said of her behavior in the months before their daughter and son were killed in the family's home. "My hope that her energy was too low to."
 
The couple divorced after the deaths.
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The defense also called a psychiatrist who reviewed Schenecker's medical records and interviewed her following her arrest.
 
Dr. Wade Myers said Schenecker "was a great mother, a loving mother, when she was well" but in his opinion, she was insane at the time of the shooting.
 
Prosecutors, during cross examination, stressed that Schenecker did not tell anyone about her idea to kill her children and herself because she didn't want the plan to be "thwarted."
 
"At the time she killed her children, Ms. Schenecker had a delusional belief this was in the best interest of their children," said Myers.
 
Parker Schenecker told the jury about how he met Julie in the military in 1990. He was a young officer and she was a military interrogator in the Army. They met when she coached his volleyball team and he said he was attracted to her athleticism and her "ability to stand up and take notice of things, take responsibility of things."
 
A couple years later, the two married in Arizona, where he was then stationed, and she left the military when she had about 10 years of tenure. Their marriage was marked with worldwide travel, both before and after Julie gave birth to their two children. They lived in Hawaii, Maryland, Virginia and, several times, in Germany, as Parker rose through the Army ranks.
 
Although he noticed that his wife "had some lower energy" and suffered from depression at the beginning of their marriage, Schenecker said she was a good mother to the children when they were born.
 
As the years went on, she visited doctors around the world and even entered into a nine-month clinical trial for her depression at the National Institute of Mental Health at one point. Parker Schenecker said he received updates about her condition during that treatment, but otherwise, she wouldn't allow him access to her mental health records or her doctors.
 
Defense attorneys have said that besides bipolar disorder with psychotic features, the defendant suffered from depression.
 
The family moved to Tampa in 2007, and when Calyx was leaving middle school and going into high school, she started to have problems with her mother, Parker Schenecker testified.
 
In November of 2010, months before the killings, Julie Schenecker was in a car crash. Parker thought his wife had been drinking and told her she needed to be in rehab; Julie agreed. When she arrived home after Thanksgiving, Julie Schenecker took to her bed for weeks and Parker's mother came to help care for the kids.
 
Parker Schenecker said he communicated with his wife at that point mostly through email due to his schedule as a colonel at U.S. Central Command, which is located in Tampa. He told her that the kids were afraid to have her drive them in the car following the accident — and that he agreed she shouldn't drive them
 
"'I MUST protect them, they are telling me they feel unsafe,'" he wrote.
 
In mid-December, when Parker Schenecker's mother went home, Julie began driving the kids to and from school and cooking dinner.
 
At the end of the day Wednesday, a judge denied a motion for acquittal. Closing arguments were to begin Thursday at 9:45 a.m.
 
If convicted, Julie Schenecker would receive a life sentence. If acquitted by reason of insanity, she would be committed to a hospital until she is no longer a danger to herself or others.
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