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Crime & Courts

Judge to allow neighbor’s comments in Schenecker trial

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Published:   |   Updated: January 31, 2014 at 11:37 AM

TAMPA — Weeks before she is accused of fatally shooting her two children, Julie Schenecker told a neighbor she was going to kill her daughter, the neighbor has told investigators.

Schenecker’s lawyer, Jennifer Spradley, said the statement was “an offhanded comment, made possibly in frustration.”

The prosecution says the comment is evidence of Schenecker’s motive and intent and her relationship with her children.

Circuit Judge Emmett Lamar Battles on Friday denied a defense motion that he bar the prosecution from using the testimony about the comment at Schenecker’s upcoming trial.

Schenecker is scheduled to go on trial April 28 in the Jan. 27, 2011, slayings of her two children, Calyx, 16, and Beau, 13.

Schenecker’s lawyers have notified the court they intend to argue she was insane at the time of the killings. If Schenecker is convicted of premeditated murder, the prosecution plans to seek the death penalty.

Lawyers said that before the killings, Shenecker’s neighbor, Deanne Patchan, saw Schenecker with a drink and a cigarette. Patchan asked Schenecker if she was OK, and Schenecker responded that she was going to kill Calyx.

Authorities have said Julie Schenecker told investigators she shot Calyx because she was “mouthy” and Beau because he sassed her after soccer practice. Family emails released on Monday depict a woman who was losing her grip on rationality and show the rising concern from those around her about her well being and the safety of the children in the months leading up to the killings.

Assistant State Attorney Stephen Udagawa told Battles on Friday that the trial will include evidence that the defendant and her daughter had problems, and the same issues began to arise with Beau when he “started to behave similarly to Calyx.”

Mother and daughter had so much trouble that “there was talk in the family that Calyx would go to boarding school.”

Udagawa said the comment Schenecker made to her neighbor sometime in late November or early December 2010 “speaks to the difficulties in the relationship. ’I want to kill her. I’m so mad, I want to kill her.’ ”

Udagawa said the comment shows Schenecker was forming premeditation over time. She was having problems with her daughter, then her son and her husband. “Then she acts,” Udagawa said.

Spradley said Patchan wasn’t particularly close to Schenecker, “not someone who Ms. Schenecker would divulge her innermost thoughts to.”

But Battles ruled for the prosecution, saying the testimony is “relevant and probative.” The judge said he will allow the defense to raise the issue again if more evidence were to shed a different light on the testimony.

esilvestrini@tampatrib.com

813-259-7837

Twitter: @ElaineTBO

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