Commonwealth v. Janeth Katherine O’Brien; Wife Sentenced to 10 Years in Prison for Killing of Husband

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Harvey L. Bryant, Commonwealth’s Attorney for the City of Virginia Beach, announced today that Janeth Katherine O’Brien, 26 years old, who previously resided in the 700 block of Rosemont Avenue in Virginia Beach, Virginia, was sentenced today by Circuit Court Judge Les L. Lilley for Voluntary Manslaughter and Shooting in the Commission of a Felony.  Judge Lilley sentenced O’Brien to 15 years in prison, with five (5) years suspended, leaving ten (10) years to serve. The Virginia State Sentencing Guidelines recommended O’Brien serve no more than five (5) years and 11 months.

Janeth O’Brien pled guilty on February 5, 2013.  Had this matter gone to trial, the Commonwealth’s evidence would have proved that on August 12, 2012, Janeth O’Brien and her husband, Kiel O’Brien, went to Mahi Mah’s restaurant at the Virginia Beach Oceanfront for lunch. Each of them had about five alcoholic drinks. They argued at the restaurant and Mr. O’Brien left without Janeth. A friend picked her up and took her to a different restaurant at the Oceanfront, where she met up again with Kiel.  Janeth and Kiel then drove back to their house in the Pecan Gardens neighborhood of Virginia Beach. 

Janeth owned a handgun which she often carried in her purse. When she and Kiel arrived home they went upstairs to the master bedroom. Janeth fired her weapon eight times, hitting Kiel four times: twice in the shoulder, once in the abdomen and once in the thigh. After being shot, Kiel made it out of the house and into the front yard, where he collapsed.


After shooting the gun eight times, Janeth went into another bedroom, got a box of ammunition and reloaded the gun. She called 911 and told them she shot her husband. Then she went outside where Kiel was bleeding near the curb. She was kneeling beside him when police arrived on scene.  Her gun was still beside her until it was secured by police.  She told the officers she was not injured, and she refused treatment.  Officers smelled an odor of alcohol and placed her in a police car. Janeth later told investigators that she and Kiel were arguing and were both shoving and hitting each other. She said that she didn’t remember what happened but she pulled the trigger and saw a lot of blood.  Kiel died later that evening at the hospital.


Evidence of Janeth and Kiel’s volatile relationship was presented in court during the sentencing hearing today.  Witnesses testified that Janeth often became violent when she drank alcohol and that she had threatened to shoot Kiel with her gun previously.


The case was prosecuted by Associate Commonwealth’s Attorney Kristin L. Paulding and Senior Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Elliott H. DeJarnette V.  Please contact Macie Pridgen if additional information is desired.