MARTINEZ -- A woman who killed her boyfriend's housemate in El Sobrante last year during a methamphetamine-fueled "exorcism" was sentenced Thursday to six years in state prison.

El Sobrante resident Karla Kuhl, 36, smothered 68-year-old Patricia Medeiros with a pillow on June 5, 2012, while chanting Biblical verses and prayers. Afterward, she said that she "had to perform an exorcism to release the evil spirit from within Patricia" and went to a church, where she stripped naked and doused herself with holy water, said Contra Costa County deputy district attorney Simon OConnell.

Kuhl on Thursday pleaded no contest to voluntary manslaughter and waived half of her credits for the jail time she's served since she was charged with murder in July 2012.

The District Attorney's Office offered her a plea deal because of uncertainty whether it could prove murder given the limited force that Kuhl applied to the frail Medeiros and the bizarre circumstances surrounding the case, OConnell said.

"She appeared to have lacked an expressed intent to kill the victim based on the fact that she was in a meth-induced state of psychosis believing that she was performing an exorcism," OConnell said.

Kuhl smoked a heavy amount of methamphetamine in her boyfriend's room before the killing. She was in the living room with Medeiros when the boyfriend and another housemate heard the two women arguing, followed by muffled sounds coming from Medeiros and chants about "releasing demons" from Kuhl.


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After the boyfriend left his room to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, he found Medeiros' body on the living room couch covered in a blanket, a kitchen chair, the Bible and a religious object thought to be the Virgin Mary, OConnell said. Kuhl had also propped a cross on the frame of her boyfriend's door before returning to tell him about the "exorcism" and fleeing to the church, OConnell said.

"I think of how my aunt felt as she was fighting for her life. My heart feels broken and confused," said the victim's nephew, Don Severn, who has known Kuhl and her family for 15 years. "I hope you seek some help because the excuses that you gave, in my mind, are just not right."

Kuhl did not make a statement at the sentencing.

Contact Malaika Fraley at 925-234-1684. Follow her at Twitter.com/malaikafraley.