West Virginia mother shot her two daughters after asking them to look for kittens under bed, killing 1 of them
Julie Orellana pleaded guilty to charges of murder and attempted murder and faces the prospect of spending life in prison without the possibility of parole
MARTINSBURG, WEST VIRGINIA: A jury has been tasked with deciding whether to grant mercy to a West Virginia mom who pleaded guilty to killing one of her daughters, and shooting another at their home in 2018.
Officers from the West Virginia State Police had first responded to the Gerrardstown residence of 47-year-old Julie Orellana on September 20, 2018, after a neighbor had called 911 to report a shooting, according to The Journal.
Moments before that call, Orellana's 11-year-old daughter Olivia had run to the neighbor's home bleeding from a gunshot wound to her leg and informed them that her mother had shot her, and her eight-year-old sister Eliza.
When police arrived at the scene, they discovered Eliza in the home "deceased on the living room floor from multiple stab wounds and gunshot wounds to the chest, abdomen, neck, and back." They also located multiple spent shell casings throughout the residence as well as multiple confirmed 9mm rounds.
Olivia told detectives that the shooting happened after she and her sister arrived home from school that afternoon and were asked by Orellana to go upstairs and find some kittens that had gotten stuck under the bed.
She said that, once they were inside the bedroom, their mother began firing a gun, striking her in the leg and hitting her sister multiple times. She said she was able to escape by jumping out of the window of an adjacent bedroom.
Police launched a manhunt for the 47-year-old, who had fled the scene in a white SUV that she had later ditched to throw them off her trail. However, she did leave behind a Taurus G2 9mm semi-automatic handgun she had purchased the day before.
She was finally apprehended 12 hours later following a search by multiple agencies and had on her a bloodied six-page letter, a steak knife, and the handgun. While she did not reveal the motive, she disclosed to state troopers that she had intended to kill both her daughters and then take her own life.
Orellana was subsequently indicted on charges of murder, attempted murder, malicious assault and two counts of use or presentation of a firearm during commission of a felony.
The charges of malicious assault and use of a firearm were dropped as part of a plea deal this past January that saw the mother plead guilty to murder and attempted murder, and a jury of 12 will now decide her fate.
The jury will hear evidence of her past, present, and future character, as well as the manner and nature of the crimes committed before either sentencing her to life without the possibility of parole or giving her the chance to see a parole board in 15 years.
She also faces three to 15 years over the attempted murder charge, and Presiding Judge Michael Lorensen will decide post-trial whether this sentence will be served consecutive or concurrent to the murder conviction.