OAKLAND -- A teenager accused of killing his parents took a surprise plea deal Monday, agreeing to plead guilty to the murders in exchange for a less severe punishment than he could have faced had he gone to trial.
The plea deal Moses Kamin, 16, took came as the case was about to be presented before a jury and about a month after his attorney argued that Kamin should be sent to a state mental hospital because he was insane at the time of the killings.
Kamin, who was adopted, killed Susan Poff, 50 and Robert Kamin, 54, by strangling the couple to death using a choke hold he learned in karate class.
The killings occurred Jan. 26, as Kamin, then 15, allegedly argued with his mother about being suspended from school for smoking marijuana. After killing his mother, evidence has revealed, Kamin waited in a dark room for his father to return from work and then surprised him with a choke hold after he entered their home at 284 Athol Ave. in Oakland.
In the deal reached Monday, Kamin was found guilty of first-degree murder for killing his father and second-degree murder for killing his mother. He will be sent to prison for 25 years to life when he is sentenced in January.
Had Kamin been found guilty as charged by a jury, he could have faced at least 50 years to life. However, he could have also been found not guilty by reason of insanity if a jury believed Kamin suffered enough from mental disorders.
The plea deal came as a
Steckler said a defense-hired mental health expert had already determined that Kamin suffered from several mental disorders, and the court had ordered two more independent analysis of the teen.
The results of one of those reviews was given to the court last month but sealed by Alameda County Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Horner. Horner also issued a gag order in the case several weeks ago preventing attorneys from talking to media.
Before the gag order was issued, Steckler said his client suffered from dissociative disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder and reactive attachment disorder.
Those mental health issues were sparked, Steckler had said, by Kamin's life before he was adopted, when, among other things, he scavenged in trash cans for food.
Steckler did not return phone calls seeking comment Monday.
Teresa Drenick, spokeswoman for the district attorney's office, declined to comment.