Crime & Courts

Joshua Almeda pleads guilty in 2014 killing of Breanna Moore

Joshua Almeda pleaded guilty Thursday in an Anchorage courtroom to second-degree murder in the 2014 shooting death of his girlfriend Breanna Moore in his family's Hillside home.

Almeda, 24, showed little emotion as he admitted the killing. The murder charge carries a sentence of up to 99 years in prison.

After the brief change-of-plea hearing, the victim's father said Almeda and his parents lacked remorse.

"And it's very heartbreaking," said Butch Moore.

Police found Breanna Moore dead on June 26, 2014, in Almeda's bedroom. Almeda's mother called 911 around 12:30 a.m. after she awoke to her son's screams. She went to his bedroom in the basement and found Moore with a single gunshot wound to the head and a handgun lying nearby.

Almeda was arrested that morning on charges of murder, theft and misconduct involving a weapon, all felonies.

A plea agreement filed in Anchorage Superior Court on Thursday said Almeda's guilty plea for second-degree murder comes with an open sentencing stipulation -- he'll be at the mercy of the court as to the length of his prison sentence.

The sentencing range for second-degree murder is 10 to 99 years, the agreement says.

Almeda answered Superior Court Judge Philip Volland's questions with "Yes, your honor." He told the judge he'd had enough time to think about the plea deal and realized he was giving up his right to a trial.

He avoids a potential first-degree murder conviction due to the deal, something Butch Moore said was highly possible given the strong evidence against his daughter's killer. Butch Moore said Almeda shot Breanna through both of her arms; she had them raised in an attempt to protect herself.

"He had no defense," Butch Moore said. "There was no possibility of suicide."

Cindy Moore, Breanna's mother, said she was relieved she wouldn't have to endure a trial. She did not want to relive the moments leading up to Breanna's death, she said.

The Moores said they were satisfied with the plea agreement, as it brings them one step closer to justice for their daughter. But Cindy said after the hearing that she most of all felt "extreme loss."

"I can't really say I'm happy, because my daughter's still gone," she said.

The parents encouraged people who knew Breanna to submit letters to the court prior to the two-day sentencing set for Oct. 22-23. Those letters will help ensure Almeda gets the sentence he deserves, they said.

Butch Moore said if the judge imposes the minimum jail time allowed under the law, Almeda could be out on parole in three years.

Moore said he worries someone else will be hurt if Almeda is released, as the young man has a history of assaultive behavior.

During this year's legislative session, the Moores frequented the Alaska Legislature's Anchorage office and pleaded with lawmakers to pass a bill providing education for teachers so they can recognize signs of sexual abuse and teach students about dating violence, among other provisions.

House Bill 44, also known as the "Alaska Safe Children's Act," incorporated elements of a program known nationally as "Erin's Law" with a locally created effort called "Bree's Law." It was passed on the final day of this year's prolonged special session.

Butch Moore said there is a lot of work left to do in establishing the act.

"The education needs to start to prevent people from being killed," Butch Moore said. He encouraged people to speak to their family and friends if they need help getting out of abusive situations.