There was no explanation for why Justus Kebabe killed his two older children at their Vadnais Heights apartment, then fled with his 3-year-old daughter.
Justus Kebabe admitted to killing most of his family in their Vadnais Heights apartment during his first in-custody interview with investigators, and he never changed his story. On Friday afternoon, he pleaded guilty to three counts of second-degree intentional murder for the deaths earlier this month of his wife and two of their three children.
The plea came at an omnibus hearing for Kebabe, 43, at the Ramsey County Law Enforcement Center next door to the jail. He will be sentenced Jan. 14 by District Judge Elena Ostby.
The county attorney's office said it will ask for three consecutive sentences of 25 years and six months, meaning Kebabe would have to spend at least 50 years in prison before he is eligible for release.
In court Friday, Kebabe admitted that he hit his wife, Bilha Omare, 32, with a golf club, then strangled her with electrical wire in the family's third-floor apartment in the Willow Ridge Apartments in the 1200 block of County Road D.
He said he gave two of the children cranberry juice laced with Tylenol PM pills before killing 12-year-old Kinley Ogendi by holding his head underwater and 9-year-old Ivyn Ogendi by suffocating her with a pillow and strangling her.
The bodies were discovered early Oct. 14 after a relative, concerned about Kebabe's erratic behavior, called 911. Kebabe was arrested by a state trooper the previous evening after his vehicle ran out of gas on Interstate 35 near Faribault, Minn.
His 3-year-old daughter was in the car, unharmed. There was no explanation for why the older two children were killed and the youngest was not.
He failed field sobriety tests and was taken to the Rice County Law Enforcement Center, where authorities learned a few hours later about the killings. Kebabe told investigators he was angry because he believed his wife was being unfaithful.
He tried to kill himself at the Ramsey County jail on Oct. 14 by stuffing a wad of toilet paper into his mouth to block his airway. He had been on suicide watch since he was brought to the jail and he was found before he lost consciousness.
The killings came just a few months after Kebabe was discharged from probation after a December 2008 incident of domestic violence. He pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of disorderly conduct and was on probation for a year.
In a police report, Omare told a sheriff's deputy that Kebabe had abused her repeatedly, including knocking her unconscious when they lived in Kenya. Kebabe came to the United States in 1996, she said, and she followed in 2003.
Pat Pheifer • 612-741-4992