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Mother’s attorney says she was afraid of adopted daughter

‘She felt like things were getting out of control’

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Muriel O’Connell wanted to be certain her daughter, Brenda, would get no inheritance.

Worse still, she was deathly afraid of Brenda, whom she adopted from an Guatemalan orphanage. O’Connell confided her fears in a chilling conversation with her lawyer just two days before she was found dead in her Buford home on Aug. 6, 2006.

Brenda and her sister, Catherine, adopted separately from Guatemala, are accused of strangling their adoptive mother to death when they were 15 years old. The girls, both 17, face murder charges that could put them behind bars for life.

Christopher A. Ballar, the attorney handling O’Connell’s estate, testified Friday about his final conversation with her.

“The tone in her voice was just overwhelming,” Ballar said. “It’s just something that sticks with you.”

O’Connell told him she was so afraid of the girls, she had started locking her door at night. She suspected they had poisoned her vodka in recent weeks. She once awakened to find the girls lurking in her room, watching her sleep, Ballar said....

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