TAMPA, Fla. - Testimony began Monday in the Tampa murder trial of Julie Schenecker, the military wife who is charged with killing her two teenagers while her husband was deployed overseas.
>Watch the trial live on Action News Now: http://wfts.tv/1jGWUtl
The 53-year-old former Army linguist has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity.
During opening arguments Monday morning, the defense painted a picture of a sick, troubled member of an all-American family, and prosecutors read chilling journal entries they say she wrote, detailing how she "offed" her kids using a .38 revolver with hollow-point bullets.
"She takes her gun. Bam! Shoots her son a second time in the face area around the upper lip, mouth.
The mouth that was disrespecting her as well. The sassy mouth as she called it," said prosecutor Steven Udagawa.
After killing her son in the family minivan, Udagawa said Julie Schenecker went after her daughter in her upstairs bedroom.
"Bam! Shoots her in the back of the head and Calyx Schenecker's body falls to the left in her chair, blood pouring out of her head, blood onto the floor and what you're going to hear is that the defendant then shoots her in her mouth. Bam! The sassy mouth, as the defendant calls it. And then the two children are dead at the hands of their own mother," Udagawa told the jury..
Her defense attorneys argued the mother of two was insane at the time of the murders. She said Schenecker's chronic mental illness - bipolar disease with psychotic features - coupled with pill-popping and alcohol, ended in tragedy.
"You'll hear how a mother and a former soldier lost her battle with her chronic mental illness that took everything from her, including her children," said defense attorney Jennifer Spradley.
>See a report on this morning's proceedings from Carson Chambers in the video player above.
Last week, prosecutors, defense attorneys and Hillsborough County Judge Emmett Battles questioned dozens of potential jurors. On Friday, some potential jurors were excused after they said the images of dead children would be too traumatic for them. Others were excused because they either knew about the case or the anticipated three-week trial would be a hardship.
Police say Schenecker killed 16-year-old Calyx and 13-year-old Beau in January of 2011. Her husband has since divorced her. He is expected to be a witness for the defense during the trial.