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An Oakland teenager said in a recorded statement played in court today that he killed his adoptive parents in a fit of anger after he was suspended from school for smoking marijuana. Moses Kamin, who was 15 at the time and is now 16, is being prosecuted as an adult on two counts of murder for allegedly strangling his adoptive parents, Susan Poff, 50, and Robert Kamin, 55, who were found dead in a PT Cruiser parked outside their home at 284 Athol Ave. in Oakland about 9:30 p.m. on Jan. 27. The couple worked for the San Francisco Department of Public Health.
Robert Kamin had worked with the San Francisco Sheriff’s Department since 1994, providing mental health services to inmates, as well as working as a psychologist at Haight Ashbury Free Clinics-Walden House. Susan Poff had worked with the San Francisco Department of Public Health’s Housing and Urban Health Clinic since 2004 as a physician assistant. In an interview with Oakland police Officer Ervieto Perez-Angeles and Sgt. Rachel Van Sloten on Jan. 28 that was played in Kamin’s preliminary
hearing in Alameda County Superior Court today, Kamin at first denied any involvement in his parents’ deaths and then blamed themon a friend. But after Perez-Angeles yelled and swore at him and said, “I’m tired of your lies,” Kamin admitted that he killed both of his parents on the evening of Jan. 26, the day after he had been suspended from school.
Kamin said he first got into a confrontation with his mother when she talked to him about his suspension. Kamin said he had studied martial arts for many years and used a chokehold to strangle her from behind because “I wanted her to pass out and calm down” but he eventually killed her. The youth said that when his father came home a few hours later he decided to kill him as well, saying, “I love you, I’m sorry” as he strangled him. Kamin said, “I was flipping out” after he killed his parents and thought about jumping out a window or hanging himself.
He said he next dragged his parents to their PT Cruiser and tried to set the car ablaze so he would die and all of their bodies would burn, but the cloth he had attached to the car’s gas tank didn’t ignite so he abandoned that idea. Kamin’s karate instructor, George Morrison, testified that he teaches chokeholds to all of his students, including Kamin but he stresses safety and he doesn’t know of any other students who have used them to harm anyone. Morrison said that when he heard that Kamin’s parents had been killed and Kamin had been arrested, “I didn’t believe it could be Moses.” He said, “I never saw anything to make me believe he could do it, ever.”
But Morrison said he recently developed doubts about Kamin because another student told him that Kamin had gotten into trouble at school for throwing a chair and asked the student if he knew where he could get brass knuckles or a switchblade knife. Kamin’s lawyer, Andrew Steckler, told Judge Morris Jacobson, who is presiding over the hearing, that he will focus on the admissibility of Kamin’s statements to police.
The purpose of the preliminary hearing is to determine if there’s enough evidence to order Kamin to stand trial on the two murder charges. Steckler told Jacobson that if the case goes to a trial the defense may focus on what he described as Kamin’s “adolescent fixation on his birth siblings.” Kamin told police that he has a brother and a sister from his birth parents but he was adopted by the Kamins when he was six years old. Kamin’s preliminary hearing will continue on Wednesday and may not conclude until next Monday.
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