LOS ANGELES (CNS) – A woman who allegedly admitted drowning her three young children in a Reseda apartment pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity today to three murder charges.
Liliana Carrillo, 32, entered dual pleas of not guilty and not guilty by reason of insanity in connection with the April 10, 2021, killings of her 5-month-old daughter Sierra, 2-year-old son Terry and 3-year-old daughter Joanna.
The murder charge involving her youngest daughter includes an allegation that she used a knife during the commission of the crime.
Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Richard S. Kemalyan noted that Carrillo’s not guilty by reason of insanity plea could result in her being “restrained for a longer period of time” than if she was convicted. The defendant said she understood the consequences of the plea.
Carrillo was ordered Aug. 23 to stand trial in connection with the killings.
All three children were drowned, with Sierra also suffering a stab wound to the chest that struck her left lung, according to testimony at the hearing in August from a deputy medical examiner who performed the autopsy on the youngest child and supervised the autopsies of the other two children.
In an interview from jail following her April 2021 arrest, Carrillo told a reporter for NBC affiliate KGET that she drowned her children because she feared their abuse and sexual assault at the hands of others.
“I drowned them,” she said of her children. “I wasn’t about to hand my children off to be further abused.”
When asked by the KGET reporter if she regretted her actions, she said, “I wish my kids were alive, yes. Do I wish that I didn’t have to do that? Yes. But I prefer them not being tortured and abused on a regular basis for the rest of their life.”
The woman said she hugged and kissed her children and apologized to them.
The children’s bodies were discovered by their grandmother.
Kim Lormans, a detective with the Los Angeles Police Department’s Juvenile Division, testified during the hearing in August that the children were found dead “in a row” on the bed in the one-bedroom apartment.
“There was blood everywhere,” the LAPD detective said.
The detective noted that Carrillo said during the TV interview that she had tried to kill herself and that it “didn’t work.”
“I tried to kill myself so I could be with my kids and it didn’t work,” Carrillo said during the TV interview. “I know that I’m going to be in jail for the rest of my life. It’s something I’ve come to terms with.”
She said in the interview that she and the children’s father, Erik Denton, shared joint custody of the children but added that he had told her that he was going to “have me locked up in a mental ward and I was never going to see my kids again.”
Carrillo was arrested in April 2021 in the Ponderosa area of Tulare County, east of Porterville.
She has remained behind bars since then.
The children’s father has filed a civil lawsuit in April 2022 against the city of Los Angeles and Los Angeles County, alleging that Los Angeles police officers were negligent, did not take seriously the indications that Carrillo’s mental health was declining and did not share information they had with county social workers.
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