A West Virginia woman who shot her two daughters before stabbing one of them to death took the stand Wednesday during her the sentencing phase of her “mercy trial.”
The Journal reports that 47-year-old Julie Orellana pleaded guilty last month to first-degree murder and first-degree attempted murder, in connection with the 2018 death of her daughter, 8-year-old Eliza, and the severe wounding of her 11-year-old daughter, Olivia.
MARTINSBURG, https://t.co/EajYPjlfFy. — Julie Ann Orellana testified Wednesday at her mercy trial that she planned to kill her 8- and 11-year-old daughters and then take her own life so they could spend eternal life together in heaven. https://t.co/Bo7jzXxetK
— Herald-Mail Media (@HeraldMailNews) February 6, 2020
Jurors inside the Berkeley County Circuit Court listened intently Wednesday as Orellana attempted to explain her actions.
“I cannot believe I did what I did,” a tearful Orellana said. “I never hurt anyone in my life.”
Orellana also claimed she wanted to take her own life so they all could “be in heaven together.”
According to court documents, on September 20, 2018, a neighbor contacted 911 after Olivia ran out of a Gerrardstown residence, at 291 Tall Pine Lane, with a shotgun wound to her leg. West Virginia State Police responded to the call and arrived to find that Orellana had already fled the scene.
Inside the residence, detectives found Eliza lying lifeless on the living room floor with 35 stab wounds across her body. She had also been shot in the back, chest, neck, and stomach.
Olivia managed to escape from an upstairs bedroom window after Orellana shot her. She later told police that her mother told her and Eliza to go upstairs and help her retrieve kittens that were supposedly hiding under the bed.
When they got to the bedroom, Orellana attacked them. Olivia ran to an adjacent bedroom, locked the door, and climbed through the window.
Authorities found Orellana around 16 hours after the incident. She was hiding with a Taurus 9mm semiautomatic pistol, a knife and a bloodstained letter detailing her reasons for hurting her children, according to Herald-Mail Media.
Orellana’s ex-husband, veteran Fairfax County Police Officer Edward Orellana, had primary custody of the children. Orellana testified that she was heartbroken that she had to be away from her girls.
“I should have went to the hospital and checked myself in,” Orellana said, claiming she was mentally unstable when the incident occurred.
Following her arrest, a clinical psychologist diagnosed Orellana with major depressive disorder and borderline personality disorder. Orellana testified that she had made several suicide attempts since the age of 17.
Depending on the jury’s verdict, Orellana could spend the rest of her life behind bars without parole. If the jury makes a “mercy recommendation,” she could be eligible for parole in 15 years.
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[Feature Photo: Eliza Orellana/GoFundMe]