Herman "Tim" Van Bragt pleaded "no contest" today in Santa Clara County Superior Court in San Jose for the March 7, 2008, stabbing death of his mother's friend, prosecutor Lane Liroff said.
"We admitted that he is not guilty by reason of insanity," Liroff said.
Van Bragt, 46, who has a history of mental illness, is charged with the murder of Robert Haggquist, 72. Sentencing is scheduled for June 11 in San Jose.
Van Bragt could be sentenced to 26 years to life in a mental hospital, Liroff said.
"The law provides that he will be sentenced to a mental hospital and potentially could stay there for the rest of his life. He will have an opportunity after a number of years to try to seek a trial claiming his sanity has been restored. He has the burden of proof and that is a difficult thing to prove," Liroff said.
Haggquist was killed by a stab wound to his heart, court records show. Van Bragt received "several non-life-threatening slash-type wounds" in the fight, according to the records. Van Bragt was arrested and charged with murder while being treated at Stanford Hospital.
According to Van Bragt's mother, Electra Van Bragt, her son drove from his home in Auburn to her Palo Alto home on Waverley Street on March 6 because "he had a dream that Bob was trying to kill me. He was trying to protect me."
Electra Van Bragt and her son's girlfriend went out to dinner that night, and Tim van Bragt and Haggquist fought in the house while the two women were out.
The case established that the killing was done for "obvious irrational motive," Liroff said. Prior to the killing, Van Bragt was expressing an unreasonable homicidal ideation and was examined by two court-appointed doctors confirming that he met the statutes for insanity, Liroff said.