Judge okays victims’ photographs as evidence in Orellana trial

West Virginia

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. (WDVM) — Julie Orellana of Gerardstown has been under arrest for more than a year for the murder of one daughter and the wounding of another.

When apprehended by West Virginia State Police in the fall of 2018, she was running through the woods, covered in blood, with a steak knife, a handgun and a six-page letter to her ex-husband and his fiancé, according to court documents.

According to pre-trial testimony, she allegedly told state troopers when taken into custody and was advised that her younger daughter survived the shooting, “they were all supposed to die.”

At a Monday pre-trial hearing before Judge Michael Lorensen in Berkeley County Circuit Court here, Orellana’s public defender tried to supress from evidence photographs of Orellana’s daughters from a family album.

Homer Speaker claimed on the defendant’s behalf that the photos were not “crime scene evidence” and should be excluded from jury consideration.

But Lorensen ruled the photos are admissible. “It tells the jury who this child was,” he told Speaker and prosecutor Catie Wilkes-Delligatti.

Jury selection will precede a mercy hearing next month. If Orellana is granted mercy with her guilty plea she could be eligible for parole after 15 years. If denied mercy, she could spend the rest of her life behind bars.

Lorensen is expected to convene the next phase of the case February 4.

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