Almost two years after a Winthrop, Maine, teenager confessed to killing her parents on Halloween, she admitted her guilt before a judge, entering guilty pleas to two murder charges and an animal cruelty charge.
Nineteen-year-old Andrea Balcer, who was born Andrew but now identifies as female, has accepted a plea deal that would sentence her to a maximum of 55 years in prison.
"It's not rocket science -– [she] confessed to committing the crime," said defense attorney Walt McKee when asked why his client changed her plea.
In the moments after the murder, Balcer can be heard on 911 tapes laughing about stabbing her father Antonio. She later told detectives in a taped interview that she stabbed her mother, Alice, as she tried to give her a hug goodnight. Balcer told police she stabbed the family dog to death because it was making too much noise, but spared the life of brother, Christopher.
Months later, in an interview with a psychologist, Balcer allegedly said she committed the crimes because of years of pent up anger and frustration with her parents. She said when she was a child, she told them she wanted to live life as a female, but they told her no.
Days before the plea change, Balcer's explanation changed again. In a jailhouse interview with the Kennebec Journal, Balcer said she "snapped" due to years of sexual abuse at the hands of her mother.
"She just kind of started with a hug and kiss," Balcer told the newspaper, adding that the abuse progressed and lasted for about two years.
She said the day of murder, her mother came into her bedroom and hugged her. "She whispered into my ear, 'Do you want me to make everything better?'" That's when Balcer said she snapped, and plunged a knife into her mother's back.
McKee said evidence of alleged sexual abuse will be presented at a sentencing hearing as he asks for a sentence lighter than 55 years.
Prosecutors say they will challenge those sexual abuse claims at that hearing. "Our position is, we don't accept that as reality," said assistant Attorney General Bud Ellis.
Balcer's brother, Christopher, told the Kennebec Journal that there was no abuse in the Winthrop home the family shared.
A judge expects to sentence Balcer in November.