INDIO – A 25-year-old La Quinta man pleaded guiltyMonday to the Thanksgiving Day murder of his mother, who he reported missing several days later.
Kevin Brom unexpectedly entered his plea as a preliminary hearing was set to get under way to determine if there was enough evidence to order him to stand trial on a first-degree murder charge.
He faces 25 years to life in prison when he is sentenced on April 14.
It is not known if 59-year-old supermarket worker Terri Brom’s body has been found because of a gag order that prohibits all attorneys, investigators and witnesses from speaking to the media about the case.
Deputy District Attorney Lisa DiMaria asked Brom in court to explain why and how he killed his mother, but he refused.
The prosecutor then asked Brom a list of questions about the murder to provide a factual basis for the guilty plea, beginning with whether he “did, in fact, murder his mother” on Thanksgiving.
“Yes,” he replied while staring straight ahead.
“After he killed her, he threw her body in a trash can and wheeled it away so that it would be disposed of. Is that in fact true?” DiMaria asked.
“Yes,” the defendant replied.
“After killing her and wheeling the body away, he took measures to conceal the crime such as cleaning up the body, spray painting, getting rid of objects such as a sheet and his clothing and he dumped those items into a neighbor’s trash can. Is that true sir?”
Brom again answered in the affirmative.
He also answered yes when asked if it was correct “that he misled people, including his girlfriend and the police, as to what happened to his mother that weekend and her whereabouts”; that he “then drove his mother’s car to her place of employment so that it would be found at some point by employees at Stater Bros.”; and that “he walked home from concealing his mother’s car at her work.”
“And … these actions were done because Kevin Brom was angry at his mother in regard to a disagreement over the living situation of Kevin’s girlfriend and her daughter,” the prosecutor said. “Is that correct?”
“Yes,” the defendant replied.
Several family members, some of them in tears, filed out of the courtroom after Brom entered his guilty plea.
According to a document submitted to the court by La Quinta police Detective Kenneth Patterson, Terri Brom told a friend that she was upset on Thanksgiving morning because of her son’s insistence that his girlfriend’s daughter move in with them.
In the declaration in support of an arrest warrant, Patterson wrote that Terri Brom also told her friend that she asked her son and his girlfriend to move out and that she did not like the girlfriend.
Terri Brom was reported missing by her son on Dec. 1. Her car was found the following day in the parking lot of the Stater Bros. supermarket at Washington Street and Highway 111.
Kevin Brom was arrested on Christmas Eve, following a nearly month-long investigation.
Investigators went to the Brom home on Avenida Carranza in La Quinta to search for evidence of Brom’s disappearance.
Several guns, which should have been inside the home, were missing, Patterson wrote.
Kevin Brom said two of the guns were on consignment at a local pawn shop and a third firearm had been borrowed or stolen by a friend, according to the declaration.
While investigators were at the home, a neighbor handed over a large black trash bag which had a strong odor of bleach and contained a pair of pants, a T-shirt, sweatshirt, shoes and fitted bed sheet, Patterson wrote.
Also inside the bag were eight empty cans of white spray paint and two receipts dated Nov. 29 from a McDonald’s restaurant in La Quinta, according to the detective.
Kevin Brom admitted owning the shoes and garments inside the bag,
stating that he had thrown the clothes away two weeks before because they had
been ruined while he was painting in the home, Patterson wrote.
When asked about the receipt, Brom had no explanation and failed to show up for a polygraph test, the detective said.
His shoes found inside the bag, the wall and baseboard near his mother’s bed, and a sheet and a light switch in the room tested positive for the presence of blood, according to Patterson.
The area near the sink in the garage also tested positive for blood, the detective said.
During a search of the home, a fresh paint smell was detected coming from Terri Brom’s bedroom, and investigators noted her mattress appeared to have been recently replaced and did not match the box spring.
Patterson said another neighbor reported seeing the son’s Toyota station wagon leaving the residence on the evening of Dec. 1 with a mattress strapped onto the roof.
The detective said the newer mattress was purchased by Kevin Brom at the Angel View Thrift shop earlier that day — the same day he reported his mother missing.
Cell phone records showed he had been working in the area near the thrift store on Dec. 1, according to Patterson.
The detective said cell phone records also showed that Brom and his girlfriend had exchanged a flurry of calls and text messages on Thanksgiving, including one asking her, “Can we drug her?” and “What do I do?”
The girlfriend told investigators that Brom had told her to not come home on Thanksgiving because his mother had not yet left for work, according to Patterson.
The girlfriend said she arrived at the home around 8:30 p.m. on Nov. 27.
She also said she was unaware that Terri Brom was angry with her, and said she had lived at the home for the past four months, Patterson said.
After failing a polygraph test, the girlfriend told detectives that “she has no idea what happened to Terri,” the detective wrote.
Kevin Brom told investigators that his mother went to visit her sister, who lives in Lake Havasu, Ariz., according to Patterson’s declaration.
The defendant said he had spoken with his aunt on the phone on Nov. 30, and she said her sister had just left for La Quinta, according to Patterson.
Investigators contacted Linda Church, who said “she had not seen Terri, spoke to her or had any contact with Kevin over the weekend,” Patterson wrote.
He said Church told investigators she had told her sister on Thanksgiving not to drive to her Lake Havasu house because of the long drive.
Brom said during an interview with investigators that he had not reported his mother missing until Dec. 1 because “he thought she was in Lake Havasu,” Patterson wrote.
Riverside County Superior Court Judge William Lebov issued a gag order Friday barring prosecutors and defense attorneys from making public comments about the case.