SACRAMENTO, CA - Few people might believe twin sisters Katerina and Kathleen Prindle would achieve much success in life after they lost both of their parents to violence, but the sisters are determined to use their experience to make a difference.
"We grew up with it," Katerina Prindle said referring to life without her parents. "It wasn't something that just happened one day and we had to learn to live with it."
Katerina Prindle and her twin sister, Kathleen, were just 8-years-old when their mother was murdered by their father - the sisters were witnesses.
"I can talk to (Katerina) about what happened and what I saw and stuff, but sometimes I can't talk to other people about it. It just gets really hard," Kathleen said.
The twins' father Darrel Prindle shot their mother, Angela, in the head as she greeted her children. It happened in May 2002. Kathleen ran for safety and Katerina stood beside her father as he fired the shots, not quite understanding what was happening.
"When I saw my mom stand up, (there was) something about the way she looked and then she held up her hand telling him to stop and then I looked up and kind of saw the gun right there right above my head and I knew, wait a minute, something's wrong," Katerina recalled.
Prosecutors believe Prindle murdered his ex-wife in a jealous rage because she had a boyfriend. On that day, Prindle also shot and wounded five others, including children. The twin sisters were not injured.
Katerina testified against her father at trial. He was later convicted and committed suicide while serving his prison sentence.
"I know that no matter what, if i decide to forgive him or not, that I don't think I could ever love him again because, for an 8-year-old, it took a lot away from us," Katerina said.
"We didn't understand what was going on, but then all of a sudden we couldn't see our mom, we couldn't hug her, hold her, kiss her, tell her we love her and hear the words back and I think that had a big toll on us."
Despite losing both parents at a young age, the twin sisters are determined to succeed; they never turned to drugs or crime.
The sisters, who were raised by their grandparents, just finished their first year at Sacramento State - where both are studying criminal justice. Kathleen wants to go be a homicide detective and Katerina wants to be a prosecutor.
"I want to be able to help that other 8-year-old kids who are going through the same thing, or maybe something different, or I want to help that family whose lost someone," Katerina said.
The sisters said as years passed, it was harder for them to accept what happened because they realized how much they missed with their mom.
"Prom was a very, very hard time because we didn't have our mom to go with us to pick out our dresses," Kathleen said. "It's hard to go to weddings because of the father-daughter dance and seeing the mothers and dads there."
On the 10th anniversary of their mother's death, the sisters placed a bouqet and candle at her gravesite.
"You can come through it and still stand on top," Kathleen said. "You don't have to let it bring you down. You can go through something like this, go through a loss, any violent loss and be able to come out on top."
Katerina and Kathleen also have two brothers. The sisters spent years in an art therapy program and also found support through the Sacramento County District Attorney's homicide victims program.