Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Judge orders lawyers in Schenecker case to whittle down computer files

TAMPA — Before the two children were shot to death, the Scheneckers were a busy Internet family — shopping, studying and communicating with each other and everyone else on their computers.

On Thursday, an assistant public defender described a bottomless pit of emails, Internet searches, Facebook exchanges and hundreds of thousands of other items retrieved from computers in the Schenecker home. Somewhere in there could be evidence in the death penalty case against Julie Schenecker, 51, accused of murdering her two teenagers, Calyx and Beau, early last year.

For months, Hillsborough Circuit Judge Ashley Moody has been pressing attorneys for a strategy and schedule for plowing through the data. She asked Thursday how many items the defense had read so far. Assistant Public Defender Robert Fraser told her, "I read several this morning."

"This morning?" Moody said, visibly frustrated. "It's been five months and you can't even tell me what you've got."

Although the shootings occurred 15 months ago, no trial date has been set for Schenecker. Death penalty cases often take two to three years of preparation. The complexity of this one is compounded by the modern-day issue of electronic evidence, which courts everywhere are now confronting. Moody's frustration was that attorneys can't see the end of the beginning of preparation, much less the beginning of the end.

Under the law, defendants are entitled to see all the evidence the state has against them. "My concern," the judge said in January, "is in this new age of electronic data, we're not giving the defense so much data that it's unsearchable."

She asked attorneys to find a way through masses of data that could serve as a model for courts throughout the country.

But she was told Thursday that the Public Defender's Office still hasn't read much and doesn't know how long or how many people it will take. One big problem is that any potential evidence needs to be read by attorneys.

"This is completely unprecedented," defense attorney Fraser told the judge. "The manpower needed is almost impossible to predict."

Not a good enough answer, the judge said.

"You tell me you just started looking this morning," she said. "We need to make this a priority. Please put manpower on it. Put in the time that's necessary."

Moody gave the Public Defender's Office and State Attorney's Office until July 12 to tell her what evidence in the data needs to be protected from public view and what can be released.

"Deadlines aren't requests," she said. "They're orders."

John Barry can be reached at

Judge orders lawyers in Schenecker case to whittle down computer files 05/31/12 [Last modified: Thursday, May 31, 2012 11:20pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. In this Dec. 4, 2016, file photo, Tiger Woods watches his tee shot on the third hole during the final round at the Hero World Challenge golf tournament in Nassau, Bahamas. Woods has been arrested on a drunken driving charge in Palm Beach County , various media outlets are reporting. [AP photo]
  2. Tiger Woods arrested on DUI charge in Florida

    Public Safety

    Tiger Woods was arrested on a DUI charge Monday in Jupiter, according to the Palm Beach County sheriff's office.

    Tiger Woods has been arrested on a DUI charge in Florida.
  3. Young male hospitalized after shooting in St. Petersburg


    ST. PETERSBURG — A juvenile male was injured Monday morning in a shooting in the 2300 block of 17th Ave S, police said.

    A juvenile was injured in a shooting Monday morning in the 2300 block of 17th Ave S in St. Petersburg. (Zachary Sampson, Tampa Bay Times)
  4. Big rents and changing tastes drive dives off St. Pete's 600 block

    Music & Concerts

    ST. PETERSBURG — Kendra Marolf was behind the lobby bar of the State Theatre, pouring vodka sodas for a weeknight crowd packed tight for Bishop Briggs, the latest alternative artist to sell out her club.

    Sam Picciano, 25, left, of Tampa and Molly Cord 24, Palm Harbor shop for record albums for a friend at Daddy Kool Records located on the 600 block of Central Avenue in St. Petersburg, Florida on Saturday, May 20, 2017. OCTAVIO JONES   |   Times
  5. How Hollywood is giving its biggest stars digital facelifts


    LOS ANGELES — Johnny Depp is 53 years old but he doesn't look a day over 26 in the new "Pirates of the Caribbean" movie — at least for a few moments. There was no plastic surgeon involved, heavy makeup or archival footage used to take the actor back to his boyish "Cry Baby" face, however. It's all …

    This combination of photos released by Disney, shows the character Jack Sparrow at two stages of his life in "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales."  Johnny Depp, who portrays the character, is the latest mega-star to get the drastic de-aging treatment on screen
[Disney via Associated Press]