January 28, 2013

Mother says she has proof son did not plot NH murder

She says her investigators found receipts that give her son an alibi and claims police did not do their job.

The Associated Press

MANCHESTER, N.H. – A woman whose ex-husband and son were convicted in the 2005 death of a handyman said Monday that court and medical records prove her son wasn't involved in the murder plot.

click image to enlarge

In this Friday March 26, 2010 file photo Jesse Brooks, 33, looks back at family and friends after being sentenced in Rockingham County Superior Court in Brentwood, N.H. Brooks was convicted of helping his millionaire father recruit friends to kill handyman Jack Reid in 2005 and was sentenced to 15 to 30 years in prison. Monday Dec. 28, 2013, Brooks' mother, Lorraine Brooks, announced at a press conference she has hired a team of private investigators, who say new evidence suggest her son is innocent. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)

Jesse Brooks, 36, is serving 15 to 30 years in prison for helping his father recruit friends to kill Jack Reid, whom he accused of theft. Jesse Brooks' alleged involvement included attending a planning meeting in Las Vegas shortly before the murder, but Lorraine Brooks says her son was in court and at a doctor's appointment that day.

"Every mother must think their child is innocent when accused of a crime. I know this crime is beyond my son's nature," she said at a news conference. "But more importantly, the evidence that has come to light proves beyond a reasonable doubt that my son is innocent."

A team of hired investigators displayed copies of receipts backing up those claims, and said Brooks' former defense lawyers erred in ignoring what they called a "rock-solid" alibi at his trial. They also suggested police and prosecutors failed to do basic investigating that would have revealed the truth and instead relied on testimony from other players in the crime who had reason to falsely implicate Brooks.

"They may as well have hired Lance Armstrong as their speaker, because it was lie after lie on top of lie," said investigator Paul Ciolino. "This case is not about conspiracy to commit murder. Jesse Brooks is in jail because his name is Brooks, that's it."

John "Jay" Brooks, Jesse Brooks' father, believed Reid had stolen a trailer full of motorcycles from the family. He was convicted of plotting Reid's murder over nearly two years and of paying the killers. Reid was bludgeoned to death with a sledgehammer at a Deerfield horse farm.

John Brooks' 2008 trial marked the state's first capital murder trial in nearly 50 years. He is serving a life sentence after a jury opted against execution.

On Monday, the investigator team and Lorraine Brooks also criticized former Attorney General Kelly Ayotte, now a U.S. senator, and Assistant Attorney General Janice Rundles, accusing them of prosecuting Jesse Brooks to further their careers.

Rundles said last week that she would not comment on the news conference. Ayotte could not be reached for comment Monday.

Those criticisms of Ayotte and Rundles aren't part of a court motion that Brooks filed last week seeking a new trial. He already has lost one appeal.

The court motion argues that Brooks' former defense attorneys failed to instruct him that he had a right to testify and did not adequately represent him. The defense team, which called no witnesses during the trial, did not return a call seeking comment Monday.

In addition to the alibi receipts, Lorraine Brooks and the investigative team also released audio and video they argued further clear Jesse Brooks. The video largely consisted of friends of Brooks claiming they never said what police reported they said during interviews.

In an audio recording, one of the men directly involved in the killing talks to his mother, who says, "If you go down for this, I hope you take Jesse with ya ... because if you were involved in this, I know it was Jesse that took you there." Michael Benton answers, "No, it wasn't," which the investigative team argues shows that Brooks had zero involvement in the plot.


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