The family of a Middletown woman allegedly shot and killed Saturday by her husband says she endured years of domestic violence and had planned to move out that day.
Gregory Orona Jr., 35, allegedly shot and killed his wife — Cassie Sanders-Orona, 42, of Middletown — Saturday morning in their Middletown residence, hours after the couple celebrated his birthday, police said.
Marlene Temple told this news outlet that her niece was abused by her husband of two years. Since late May, Middletown police have responded to the address in the 2900 block of Wilbraham Road about a dozen times. Several times, police were called to break up altercations between the couple, according to police reports.
“She was scared and he threatened her so much,” Temple said after the arraignment. “Somebody should have helped her. She got mixed up with a monster. You think they love you and they turn into this obsessive person. Our family is heart-broken.”
Temple said the family learned about the fatal shooting on Facebook.
Following Orona Jr.’s arraignment Monday morning, Temple said she hoped he received the maximum sentence for his alleged crime. He faces 18 years to life in prison, according to Middletown Municipal Court Judge Mark Wall. Because firearms were allegedly used, three years, from 15 to 18, were added to the possible sentence, Wall said.
During his court appearance, Orona said he wanted to ask Wall a question, but the judge responded that he needed to ask his court-appointed attorney. Then as Orona was led back into the holding cell, he cursed at the judge. Wall then ordered a short recess.
Orona remains in the Middletown City Jail, according to records.
As the facts in the case that were compiled by Middletown Detective Kristi Hughes were read, Orona shook his head in disbelief and looked for his father, Gregory Orona Sr., who was not in the court room..
During the investigation, Orona told detectives he accidentally shot his wife with a 20-gauge shot gun in bed, but detectives said the evidence was “not consistent” with his story.
Sanders-Orona’s cause of death was a shotgun wound, according to the Butler County Coroner’s Office. An autopsy has been conducted, but the coroner’s office hasn’t ruled on the death, pending investigation.
Bond has been set at $500,000 for Orona.
Orona will have his preliminary hearing on Dec. 27 in Middletown court.
Sanders-Orona leaves behind a 17-year-old daughter, her aunt said. Temple was emotional after the arraignment, but said she wanted to attend the court proceedings because her niece “needs a voice.”
She said her niece was “full of life” and was a kindergarten teacher in Cincinnati.
Barry Brown, who said he and his wife traveled extensively with the Oronas, said he never considered Gregory Orona Jr. a violent person. Brown said he never saw Orona hit his wife.
“I never dreamed this could happen,” he said. “We’re devastated.”
This article contains previous reporting by staff writer Ed Richter.