MARTINSBURG, W.Va. – A Berkeley County woman will spend the rest of her life in prison after a jury found she should not be granted mercy after murdering one daughter and trying to kill another.
The jury made its determination in the mercy hearing for Julie Orellana not long after testimony wrapped up in a Martinsburg courtroom Friday evening.
Orellana, of Gerrardstown, will face life in prison with no chance for parole at her April 20 sentencing.
Orellana, 47, previously pleaded guilty to killing her daughter Eliza, 8, and wounding her older sister Olivia, 11, on Sept. 20, 2018 at the Tall Pine Lane home where Orellana land the girls lived.
Before jury members made their decision, they heard Friday they heard an audio recording from Olivia Orellana.
“I hope my sister’s okay,” she told detectives.
Olivia told Eastern Panhandle Drug and Violent Crimes Task Force Detective Ronald Kerns that her mom was “crazy” and that she had threatened before to “burn the house down, to shoot us, to throw us off a cliff” on prior occasions.
Kerns said the 11-year-old displayed shock, disbelief, compassion, and concern for her sister during the interview.
Olivia said her mother picked both her and Eliza up from separate school buses and drove them to the home. She told them to go upstairs and look for kittens under a bed, giving them a box of treats to shake to bring them out.
Olivia said she turned around to ask her mother to help them, “And she had a gun. I started freaking out.”
After she was shot, she said she started to run. “I had no choice but to be shot or jump out of the window,” Olivia told the detective.
Other audio recordings the jury heard seemed to support the prosecution’s argument that on the day of her arrest, Mrs. Orellana was fixated on making sure her ex-husband Ed got a note that stated it was all his fault and that he should suffer.
Her other statements, made to a state trooper from an Emergency Room at Berkeley Medical Center included statements that Ed had taken ‘everything,’ including the home they formally shared.
She could be heard alternately saying she wanted to go back to the house on the cul-de-sac and expressing remorse for what she had done ‘to them’ in the audio.
Psychologist Dr. David Clayman testified he had determined Orellana was competent to stand trial. He also said he believed given his evaluation of her past behavior regarding therapies and treatment and her current state of mind, she would revert back to her mental health issues once she was out of the structured environment and programs offered by prison.
She has been diagnosed as suffering from depression and Borderline Personality Disorder.
He also said she would likely try to reach out to Olivia and others and re-establish a relationship if she is ever paroled from prison.
“We have to know that Olivia will still be protected even after 15 years of time,” he said. He said Mrs. Orellana’s statements that she hopes Olivia will forgive her one day is a precursor to trying to establish contact with her later.
Dr. Clayman said during his interviews with Mrs. Orellana, she expressed how much she loved her children and that she believed she had been a good mother to them.
Story by Marsha Chwalik