TAMPA, Fla., May 16 (UPI) -- An Army officer's wife was sentenced to spend her life in a Florida prison minutes after a jury decided Julie Schenecker was sane when she killed her children.
Schenecker told the judge she still does not know why she shot her daughter, Calyx, 16, and son, Beau, 13, in January 2011. But she suggested the children are better off.
She said Calyx and Beau "are in no pain and they are alive and enjoying everything and anything heaven has to offer, Jesus protecting them and keeping them safe until we get there."
Circuit Judge Emmet Lamar Battles had no leeway once Schenecker was convicted of two counts of first-degree murder. He sentenced her to consecutive life sentences with no parole.
Parker Schenecker, who has since retired with the rank of colonel, left for Iraq a few days before his children died. He divorced his wife after the killings.
"While this decision doesn't bring my children back, it does give my 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," he said after the verdict.
During the trial, Schenecker's lawyer cited her lengthy history of bipolar disorder. Jennifer Spradley said Schenecker stopped taking Abilify because of a bad reaction to it and was under the care of an inexperienced psychiatric resident.
Assistant State's Attorney Jay Pruner did not dispute that Schenecker has mental health issues. But he argued she wanted to get back at her husband and was able to plan the killings, purchasing a gun and then returning to the store after the mandatory five-day waiting period.
Immediately after the bodies were found, Schenecker told police the children were "sassy" and "mouthy." She tried to take her own life after shooting them but only succeeded in making herself unconscious.
Battles called the case "almost too much for most to comprehend."