SALINAS, Calif. - UPDATE 2/28/2018 3:40 p.m.:
Tami Huntsman, the woman accused of killing two children and abusing a third under her care, has pleaded guilty.
Shielded by her attorneys, Huntsman, 42, was barely audible in court as she pleaded to all eight charges stemming from the 2015 murders of Shaun Tara, 6, and Delylah Tara, 3, and the abuse and torture of the children’s older half-sister.
The children’s bodies were found in a Redding storage facility, while the surviving victim was found in Huntsman’s care in Plumas County.
"She's going to die in prison,” said Berkley Brannon, chief assistant DA for the Monterey County District Attorney’s Office. “There will be no further appeals, no further litigation and we were able to save the children in this case from having to testify in two separate proceedings. So, justice was done."
Huntsman’s plea deal, which was signed on Tuesday night, spared her the death penalty and years of potential litigation. Judge Pamela Butler read the agreement aloud in court:
"I willfully failed to provide adequate food to Jane Doe, Shaun Tara and Delylah Tara causing them to suffer from starvation and extreme malnutrition. I willfully failed to provide adequate shelter to Jane Doe, Shaun Tara and Delylah Tara causing them to suffer hypothermia from being confined in a wet cement shower for extended periods of time. I violently battered Jane Doe, Shaun Tara and Delylah Tara causing each child to suffer great bodily injury. I willfully failed to provide necessary medical care to Jane Doe, Shaun Tara and Delylah Tara. I willfully permitted Gonzalo Curiel to do each of the above listed acts and omissions. My acts and omissions, along with the acts and omissions of Gonzalo Curiel caused the deaths of Shaun Tara and Delylah Tara. I intended to kill Shaun Tara and Delylah Tara. I intended to inflict extreme physical pain and suffering upon Jane Doe, Shaun Tara and Delylah Tara for a sadistic purpose. Shaun Tara and Delylah Tara died during the commission of the crime of torture in violation of penal code 206. I knowingly conspired with Gonzalo Curiel to commit the crime of child abuse and torture against Jane Doe. I intended that one or more of us would commit the crimes of child abuse and torture at least overt act was committed in further conspiracy in the state of California and the county of Monterey."
Brannon said since the start of the case, they were willing to make a plea deal.
"We were open to considering a plea to life without the possibility of parole,” Brannon said. “The defense came to us, they wanted to do that. But then there had to be further discussions with Ms. Huntsman."
Huntsman will be formally sentenced on April 25 to life in prison without the possibility of parole. She will face additional sentences of nine years for felony child abuse and 21 years to life for felony torture, all to be served consecutively.
While there has been a final judgement in her case, co-defendant Gonzalo Curiel’s fate is still unknown.
His trial is expected to begin on April 2 and the surviving victims are expected to testify.
Curiel’s attorney Arthur Dudley filed a motion to suppress evidence found in the storage locker where the children’s bodies were found, but the judge ruled against it. Arthur Dudley also brought up a possible change of venue, a decision has not yet been made.
A woman accused of torturing and killing two children three years ago has pleaded guilty.
42-year-old Tami Huntsman and Gonzalo Curiel were back in a Salinas courtroom Wednesday for the murder of 6-year-old Shaun and 3-year-old Delylah Tara. The children were left in Huntsman's care. Their bodies were allegedly left in a plastic bin in a storage facility in Redding. Huntsman admitted to torturing both children and abusing their 9-year-old sister who was found in a car, starving with dislocated limbs.
As part of the plea agreement, Huntsman waived her rights to later legally challenge or appeal her conviction and sentence making it certain she will die in prison.
Huntsman will serve consecutive life sentences with no possibility of parole for the murder of both kids.
KION's Mariana Hicks will have the full story at 5 and 6 p.m.