Tuesday, April 24, 2018
News Roundup

Two in Julie Schenecker trial jury pool dismissed after one mentions the case

TAMPA — Finding people who know next to nothing about one of Hillsborough County's most high-profile and tragic crimes has proved difficult.

By the close of the third day of jury selection Wednesday for the three-week trial of Julie Schenecker, the New Tampa mother accused of murdering her two children in 2011, attorneys had dismissed one out of every two jurors they'd interviewed. Of those sent home, many admitted that they had concluded long ago that Schenecker was guilty, and they couldn't be the "clean slate" attorneys were seeking.

Some had children and became emotional when seated feet away from a woman who is accused of killing her own. Some had seen video footage of Schenecker shaking in Tampa police officers' arms, and pronounced her "crazy" and "distraught."

One young man said he had known Calyx Schenecker, the defendant's 16-year-old daughter, from King High School. He had attended the vigil. He said he couldn't be impartial.

As he finished speaking, Schenecker, 53, began to cry.

It was the rare juror who took pity on her.

"I remember thinking how difficult it must be to be mentally unstable and then to have the burden of caring for two teenagers," one woman sympathized. She was excused.

From a pool of roughly 180 prospective jurors, attorneys settled on 90. It was less than they had hoped for — they were aiming for 100 — but as the day went on it became clear they wouldn't reach that goal. Even so, it took an additional hour of jury selection to find 90.

Today, attorneys will continue questioning people in this pool. They'll ultimately select 12 jurors and four alternates, a process likely to take the rest of the week. The trial is scheduled to begin Monday.

Complicating an already difficult task, two potential jurors were dismissed on Wednesday, one for talking about the case while other jurors were present and the other for being influenced by the conversation.

"We were just shooting the breeze," juror number 105 told Circuit Court Judge Emmett L. Battles. "I discussed a couple things I'd heard on the news. That she had shot her two children, and it was pretty terrible."

A middle-aged man with a ponytail, juror 105's name was not made public, as jurors' identities are kept confidential during a trial.

He had been sitting and waiting for hours on Monday, he said, when he speculated aloud that the long wait probably meant they were being considered for Schenecker's trial.

His audience was "a couple of ladies," who didn't chide him for speaking, he said. As in all trials, the jury pool was warned by the judge not to discuss the case with each other or anyone outside the courthouse. But the warning came after the juror's remarks.

Battles dismissed one of those women, juror 131, who said she had learned what little she knew about the case from juror 105's comments.

Since her arrest in 2011, Schenecker has been in jail awaiting trial on two charges of first-degree murder. Police say she shot her children while her husband was away on a military deployment. Schenecker later told police that she was tired of the children talking back.

Her defense attorneys are expected to present evidence that she was insane at the time of the killings. Prosecutors are seeking a life sentence.

Comments
Waffle House shooter’s guns were seized but then returned

Waffle House shooter’s guns were seized but then returned

Travis Reinking exhibited multiple warning signs that he was mentally unstable: He talked openly about delusions that he was being stalked by Taylor Swift. He insisted unknown people were making barking noises outside his home. He even went to the Wh...
Updated: 21 minutes ago
Bruins’ Brad Marchand: ‘You have to be willing to do anything … in order to win’

Bruins’ Brad Marchand: ‘You have to be willing to do anything … in order to win’

Brad Marchand might be the ultimate pest, but he's not the original.Not even in his own family.The Boston Bruins left wing writes in a first-person story published last week in The Players' Tribune that he got his inspiration from his younger br...
Updated: 22 minutes ago
Rays prospect Adames hits for cycle

Rays prospect Adames hits for cycle

Willy Adames, the Rays top position player prospect, touched all the bases in hitting for the cycle in Triple-A Durham's Monday's win over Buffalo.Adames doubled in the first inning, singled in the fifth, tripled in the sixth and completed the rare f...
Updated: 22 minutes ago
Forecast: After storms produce damage in Ruskin, clear conditions ahead for Tampa Bay

Forecast: After storms produce damage in Ruskin, clear conditions ahead for Tampa Bay

ST. PETERSBURG — Forecasters said rain could fall on Monday before conditions cleared, leaving drier air and less humidity behind.That rain moved through Ruskin with a vengeance Monday night, and produced a treacherous early-morning commute for resid...
Updated: 1 hour ago
The Daystarter: A Murphy-Jolly gubernatorial run?; ALF residents’ deplorable conditions; committee to pick pier art; Lightning must wait to learn opponent

The Daystarter: A Murphy-Jolly gubernatorial run?; ALF residents’ deplorable conditions; committee to pick pier art; Lightning must wait to learn opponent

Catching you up on overnight happenings, and what to know today.   • Give thanks for drier air. There is a small rain chance this morning, but things dry out by the afternoon, according to 10Weather WTSP. Beats yesterday’s humidity. The...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Ex-Bucs QB Jeff Garcia doesn’t care about NFL draft: ‘I have a life’

Ex-Bucs QB Jeff Garcia doesn’t care about NFL draft: ‘I have a life’

So much of the attention Monday surrounding the Bucs' announcing who'd be announcing their late-round draft picks was, of course, that a parrot would be delivering the name of the fourth-round pick to the pirate ship at Raymond James Stadium.But late...
Updated: 1 hour ago
NFL Draft: Date, time, TV schedule and draft order for the April 26-28 draft

NFL Draft: Date, time, TV schedule and draft order for the April 26-28 draft

The NFL Draft starts Thursday from Arlington, Texas, with coverage of the first round beginning at 8 p.m. ET. Here's a look at the broadcast schedule for all three days and the draft order for every round:Schedule(all times Eastern)Thursday, April 26...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Authorities searching for missing Wesley Chapel boy, 12

Authorities searching for missing Wesley Chapel boy, 12

A Florida Missing Child Alert has been issued for a 12-year-old boy in Wesley Chapel.According to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Tyshawn Govan was last seen near the 2200 block of Marsh View Drive.He is 5 feet 6 and 110 pounds, with blac...
Updated: 1 hour ago
St. Pete Pier public arts committee to meet with finalists, make decision

St. Pete Pier public arts committee to meet with finalists, make decision

ST. PETERSBURG — The pier public arts committee is expected to decide today which artist or artists will have their work showcased in the new 26-acre Pier District. The committee, which selected six finalists with the help of consultant Ann Wykell, w...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Twin sisters from Tampa helping shape Fox’s ‘Empire’ say they’d like to tell Tampa stories

Twin sisters from Tampa helping shape Fox’s ‘Empire’ say they’d like to tell Tampa stories

JaNeika and JaSheika James’ television obsession was fueled by scarcity and convenience. As self-described "military brats" living in Germany, the girls treasured the VHS tapes their grandmother shipped overseas filled with English-language Saturday ...
Updated: 2 hours ago