GERRARDSTOWN, W.Va. (WDVM) — A jury decided early Friday evening to sentence Julie Orellana to life in prison with no parole after she chose to testify at her mercy trial on Wednesday.
Orellana, a 47-year-old mother of two children from Gerrardstown, West Virginia, plead guilty to killing her 8-year–old daughter and attempting to kill her 11-year-old daughter. She was arrested on Sept. 20, 2018 after her youngest child was found dead at 291 Tall Pine Lane in Gerrardstown.
According to testimony from the West Virginia State Police, at the time of her arrest she was carrying 9mm semiautomatic pistol, a bloodied steak knife and six page letter to her ex-husband and his fiancé. When advised by officers that her daughter survived her being shot, Orellana, according to police testimony, replied, “they were all supposed to die.”
On Tuesday, the court had narrowed the jury down from 72 people. In preliminary motions preceding jury selection Monday, Judge Michael Lorensen ruled that a collection of family photos of Orellana’s victims are relevant to the jury “as to who the victims are.”
Orellana is being represented by Homer Speaker, public defender for Berkeley County Circuit Court.
Community gathers for celebration of life
The 8-year-old victim, Eliza Orellana was remembered in October 2018 at St. Leo Catholic Church in Inwood. “She was a happy, happy girl. Always a smile on her face,” family friend Katie Keysor told WDVM at the celebration of life.
The service lasted nearly two hours and included not just family and friends, but others in the community like law enforcement.
Orellana’s oldest daughter, Olivia, was able to survive her mother’s attack.