Woman pleads not guilty to murdering her three children in Reseda

A man and a woman wearing masks in a courtroom
Deputy Public Defender Brandon Mata, left, with Liliana Carrillo during her arraignment in Kern County Superior Court last year.
(Alex Horvath / Bakersfield Californian)

A woman who admitted in a TV interview to drowning her three young children in a Reseda apartment last year pleaded not guilty Monday to three murder charges stemming from their deaths.

Liliana Carrillo, 32, is charged in the April 10, 2021, killings of her 6-month-old daughter, Sierra; 3-year-old daughter, Joanna; and 2-year-old son, Terry.

The criminal complaint includes an allegation that Carrillo used a knife as a deadly and dangerous weapon on her youngest daughter, according to the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office.


In an interview from jail after her arrest, Carrillo told a reporter for Bakersfield NBC affiliate KGET-TV Channel 17 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 whether 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 grandmother discovered the bodies.

L.A. County social workers and LAPD officers were told repeatedly that Liliana Carrillo was a danger to her kids. Now the children’s father is suing.

April 21, 2022

Their father, Eric Denton, had been granted physical custody of the children after a legal battle in which he raised grave concerns about Carrillo’s mental health. He had expected the children to be turned over to him on April 11, 2021, according to The Times.

Court records reviewed by The Times and the Orange County Register included allegations that Carrillo was suffering from postpartum depression and was increasingly paranoid and delusional after failing to take prescribed medication.

Denton and a family member, who is an emergency room physician, also reached out to police and child welfare authorities, according to court filings and media interviews.


But Carrillo also sought aid from authorities and in March 2021 was granted a temporary restraining order for her and her children through the Los Angeles County courts, which barred Denton from harassing, threatening or violent behavior.

Carrillo was arrested in April 2021 in the Ponderosa area of Tulare County, east of Porterville.

She has remained behind bars since then.

Carrillo is due back at the downtown Los Angeles courthouse Aug. 29, when a date is scheduled to be set for a hearing to determine if there is enough evidence to allow the case against her to proceed to trial.