A West Virginia woman who killed one daughter and severely injured another is awaiting her fate after a leading expert witness testified for the defense on Thursday, during the sentencing phase of her “mercy trial.”
As CrimeOnline previously reported, 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.
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.
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
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.
Dr. Phillip Resnick, director of forensic psychiatry at Case Western University, testified on Thursday that Orellana suffered from major depression and had the “misguided belief” that her daughters would be with her “in heaven” rather than alive and not in her custody.
Orellana’s former husband, veteran Fairfax County Police Officer Edward Orellana, had primary custody of the children. Orellana testified earlier this week that she was heartbroken that she had to be away from her girls.
Orellana previously said she planned to take her own life after she harmed her children. Resnick testified that Orellana fled into woods after the incident with a gun, intent on killing herself, but the gun jammed before she could do so, according to The Journal.
Resnick added that at the time, Orellana was likely panicking after she begged to see her children more. Prior to the incident, Onella’s ex-husband temporarily stopped visitation between Orellana and the children so that the woman could set up mental counseling.
Prosecutors, however, alleged that Orellana’s emails to her ex indicated that she only cared about herself and getting revenge on her ex.
“You can’t do this to me,” one of the emails reportedly read.
Prosecutors also pointed out the Orellana was found with a bloodied, six-page letter that she wanted her ex to read. Orellana was reportedly recorded on police dashcam after the incident, showing concern only for the letter reaching Edward Orellana.
“This is all your fault. The hell you have put me through the past two years is inexcusable. It’s your turn to suffer,” the letter read.
Prosecutors added that Orellana didn’t say anywhere in the letter that she harmed her children out of love.
Earlier this week, Orellana took the stand and confessed that she has had suicidal thoughts since the age of 17. She also confessed that she should have gotten help before hurting the children.
I cannot believe I did what I did…I never hurt anyone in my life,” Orellana testified. “I should have went to the hospital and checked myself in.”
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.
Check back for updates.
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[Feature Photo: Eliza Orellana/GoFundMe]