OAKLAND -- About a month before 15-year-old Moses Kamin allegedly choked his parents to death, he told a school counselor that he was frustrated with the couple who adopted him and cautioned that "his father better not hit him first," the counselor testified Monday.
Isabelle Waigi said that discussion with Kamin came after he described a physical confrontation he had with his mother, Susan Poff, 50, who was upset with him after he took the family's PT Cruiser and went on a joy ride with some friends.
Waigi said she asked Kamin if he would harm his parents, and "he said no, he wouldn't hurt them because he loved his mother, but he said his father better not hit him first."
The discussion caused Waigi to call a meeting with Poff to discuss her son's recent revelations, she said. In that meeting, she said, Poff dismissed the incident and told her it came about after she hit him on the head, and he responded by grabbing her hands and pushing her against a wall.
"She said it was nothing," Waigi said.
That was the last time Waigi met with Kamin before his parents were found dead in their car outside their home at 284 Athol Ave.
Kamin, who is 5 feet 9 inches tall and weighed about 200 pounds at the time, has been charged as an adult with two counts of murder. He admitted during a police interrogation that he used a chokehold he learned in karate school to kill Poff and his father, Robert Kamin, 54.
Kamin told police, in
Waigi's testimony came in a preliminary hearing being held in the case during which Superior Court Judge Morris Jacobson will decide if a prosecutor has presented enough evidence to send Kamin, now 16, before a jury for murder.
Jacobson's ruling will depend on his decision of whether or not to allow Kamin's confession to be admitted as evidence in the case. Kamin's attorney, assistant public defender Drew Steckler, has challenged the confession's legality, arguing that Kamin was too young and not intelligent enough to understand he had a right not to speak to police officers.
But deputy district attorney Joe Goethals has argued that Kamin did understand his rights and pointed to a portion of Waigi's testimony in which the counselor described how Kamin eventually refused to speak with her.
Waigi testified that her sessions with Kamin were voluntary and that he was told, during their first session in October, that he had the right not to meet with her. Three months later, she said, he told her he no longer wanted to meet.
Waigi was one of three witnesses called Monday by Steckler to provide evidence showing that Kamin had a learning disability and struggled, at times, understanding.
Another witness, Shawn Usha, an educational therapist, said he had diagnosed Kamin with having "the profile of a learning disability." Usha said several tests he had Kamin take showed that the teenager had trouble processing information and that his academic skills were "very weak."
Goethals and Steckler will make arguments in the preliminary hearing Wednesday, after which Jacobson will decide if the confession can be used as evidence and whether there is enough evidence to move the case to trial.