OAKLAND -- Ten years ago Robert Kamin and Susan Poff adopted a troubled 6-year-old Oakland boy who no one else wanted.
The couple, who both worked as therapists, knew of the difficulties to come raising a boy who had been rejected by at least two other families and spent his toddler years living on the streets, sifting for food scraps in garbage cans.
Despite their hopes for a normal life, their son, Moses Kamin, murdered them after an argument in which he was scolded for smoking marijuana at school.
As the 16-year-old was sentenced Friday to 25 years to life in prison, family members spoke of the couple's persistent and optimistic outlook for their son and wondered why he would choke both to death.
"They adopted a child that no one else wanted and they believed with their entire being that they could give him a healthy and productive life," Teresa Poff, Susan's sister said. "You killed the only two people that ever loved you."
Moses Kamin attacked his parents a year ago in their home at 284 Athol Street. The attack came after Kamin had an argument with his mother about being suspended from school. After the argument, Kamin told police, he attacked Poff, 50, from behind, choked her until she passed out and then tied a T-shirt around her neck to ensure she could not breath.
Kamin then hid the body, removed light bulbs from all the lamps in the house and waited in the dark for his father to return from work. When Robert Kamin, 54,
Kamin tried to hide the bodies in a shallow grave in the backyard but eventually placed both in the family's PT Cruiser and tried to ignite the car with him in the front seat. When that failed, Kamin went back inside and waited until police arrived about two days later responding to concerns from family and co-workers who had not heard from the couple.
Kamin initially denied involvement and blamed an acquaintance, but after a lengthy police interrogation, the then-15-year-old admitted to the killings and told police details of the crime.
As the case against Kamin proceeded, his defense attorney, assistant public defender Drew Steckler, declared his client insane and sought to have Kamin placed in a state mental institution.
Steckler cited a defense-hired psychologist's opinion that found Kamin suffered from multiple personality disorder. The disorder was sparked, the psychologist found, by a rare confluence of life events including the teen's horrific childhood and an identity crisis that was made worse by Kamin's recent failed attempts to find his biological siblings.
Kamin pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity and was evaluated by two court-ordered psychologists. Those psychologists, however, split on their opinions, with one finding that Kamin is "likely" insane and the other finding that Kamin was sane and understood what he was doing when he killed his parents.
Deputy district attorney Stacie Pettigrew believed the insanity plea was "contrived" and pushed for a jury trial, at which point Kamin agreed to a plea deal to avoid a prison term that would have guaranteed he would never be released.
Despite the plea deal, both attorneys continued to argue Friday about Kamin's sanity. It was an argument made more for a future parole board than for the judge who had previously agreed to the plea deal and the 25-years-to-life sentence.
Kamin will be 41 years old when he becomes eligible for parole.
The argument revealed shocking new details about Kamin that had remained confidential until Friday.
Those included a text message he sent to a friend five days before the killing in which he offered to kill a person in order to gain entry into a gang. It also included a journal entry Kamin made in which he talked about killing his mother.
According to Pettigrew, Kamin wrote that he was angry that his mother had scolded him for playing violent video games and fantasized about attacking her with a kitchen knife.
Kamin, who has said little throughout his court appearances, spoke Friday to his extended family. He apologized for the murders, told his aunts and uncles not to forgive him and promised to fade into oblivion.
"I shouldn't be forgiven for what I did," Kamin said. "I know that you all think I am a monster, and I'm going to do what monsters do best. I'm going to fade away."