Mom Who Shot Girls After Luring Them With Kittens Sentenced To Life In Prison

Julie Orellana of West Virginia pleaded guilty to murder and attempted murder.

February 11, 2020

Julie Orellana [WV Regional Jail Authority]

Julie Orellana [WV Regional Jail Authority]

By: Aaron Rasmussen

A jury sentenced the West Virginia mom of two who shot and killed one daughter and injured the other to life in prison without the possibility of parole on Friday, Feb. 7.

Julie Orellana, 47, had previously pleaded guilty to murdering Eliza, 8, and attempting to kill Olivia, 11.

On Sept. 20, 2018, Orellana’s neighbor in Gerrardstown called 911 after the oldest girl, Olivia, ran to her home for help. The child, who suffered a gunshot wound to her leg, told responding West Virginia State Police that Orellana lured her and her little sister to an upstairs bedroom by telling them some kittens were stuck underneath a bed, People reported.

When Olivia and Eliza went to the room, the mom shot at her two daughters. Olivia managed to run to another bedroom and locked the door. She then escaped through a second-story window. Prosecutors said Eliza was found dead in the living room. She was shot and had 35 stab wounds to her abdomen, chest, back and neck, authorities said.

After the murder, Orellana fled the scene covered in blood. West Virginia State Police Sgt. W.R. Garrett testified in court that the mother was apprehended in possession of a steak knife, a 9mm semiautomatic pistol, and a six-page letter written to her ex-husband and his fiancée, Hagerstown, Maryland’s WDVM-TV reported.

According to police testimony, when Orellana was informed her oldest child survived, she said the attack “wasn’t supposed to happen that way” and “they were all supposed to die.”

Orellana testified at a Feb. 5 mercy hearing that she battled mental illness and had wanted to kill herself. She said rather than making her daughters deal with the impact her suicide would have on their lives, she decided to murder the girls first and then shoot herself so they could be together in heaven, Martinsburg’s The Journal reported.

"I cannot believe I did what I did," Orellana told the court during the hearing. "I never hurt anyone in my life."

The mom said she attempted suicide after the crime but the gun jammed.

Orellana’s youngest daughter was honored at a two-hour celebration of life ceremony in October 2018.

Family friend Katie Keysor told WDVM-TV at the time that Eliza was a “happy, happy girl” who always had a smile on her face. “She loved with all her soul and she would forgive anyone for anything, and I think she was everything that adults strive to be,” Keysor said.

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