Robert Hodges, the 32-year-old father who murdered his own three young children in cold blood three months ago, pleaded guilty to the charges against him while his grief-stricken wife listened during his hearing on Thursday.
Robert’s wife, Mai Hodges, was sitting in the front row of the courtroom as he admitted to strangling their children to death inside their apartment in West Sacramento, California in September, The Sacramento Bee reports.
Hodges also admitted to trying to kill his wife, who went to the hearing with a group of family and friends. He will be detained without bail at Yolo County Jail until his scheduled sentencing on Jan. 19 in Yolo Superior Court.
Yolo County District Attorney Jeff Reisig said that while the charges may constitute a capital crime, he has not decided whether to pursue the death penalty.
Hodges faced three counts of murder in the deaths of his children, Kelvin, 11, Julie, 9, and Lucas, 7 months and attempted murder on Mai Hodges. There was also special circumstances for committing multiple murders, lying in wait and using a weapon (a belt) to kill his two older children. Mai Hodges continued sobbing quietly while Rosenberg read each of the counts and as her husband responded with “guilty” to the allegations.
“This is a plea of guilty to all charges,” Reisig told Yolo Superior Court Judge David Rosenberg during the hearing, noting that a “carefully orchestrated” plea agreement had been reached. Deputy Public Defender Ron Johnson noted that they have been working on a deal for weeks, with their camp offering the prosecutors life without parole.
“His main goal was not to put the family through more than they’ve already been through,” Johnson was quoted as saying.
Mai Hodges declined to speak with reporters after the hearing. Meanwhile, Reisig released a statement through his office, saying Hodges will “die in prison.”
“Ultimately, the surviving family’s desire for a swift and certain conclusion to this heartbreaking case led us to the conclusion that this resolution was most appropriate,” the statement read.
During the preliminary hearing in October, it was revealed that Hodges had admitted killing his children to the investigators who responded to the scene of the crime, telling them that he was in deep financial crisis and wanted to spare the family financial hardship.
West Sacramento Police Detective Eric Palmer said Hodges recounted that he first suffocated his youngest child, before proceeding to strangle the two older children in the span of several hours, taking breaks on his portable tablet between the killings. He reportedly grabbed each of the older children from behind by surprise, choking them with a leather belt. He claimed that he planned to commit suicide after killing his wife, but when he tried to wrap the belt around her neck, she was able to fight back, scratching, and kicking.
Hodges, who had no previous criminal record other than minor traffic violations before the massacre, told authorities that he had been thinking about killing his family, including himself, for a year because the Internal Revenue Service was reportedly coming after them for back taxes. Their credit cards have also reportedly been maxed out.
“He had always been a caring and loving person,” Mai Hodges wrote in a Facebook post days after the crime. “But for whatever reason went (through) his mind, heart to do this, I can never imagine why. I ask myself everyday, ‘why?’”
Feature Image via Facebook / Yolo County Sheriff’s Office (via SacBee)