New evidence in capital murder case?
Jesse Brooks, part of a father-son team convicted in connection with the murder of a Derry trash hauler, plans to request a new trial, claiming he has an alibi for the time when the murder plan was hatched and that jailhouse telephone conversations will exonerate him, according to a paid investigator.
"If there is a judge in New Hampshire who will give us a fair hearing to lay out the facts and let us call witnesses, Jesse Brooks is walking out of the penitentiary with an apology," Chicago investigator Paul Ciolino told the New Hampshire Union Leader Thursday.
Ciolino, who has spent decades pursuing wrongful conviction investigations and is a frequent television contributor, and Jesse Brooks' mother, Lorraine, plan to appear at a news conference at a Manchester hotel Monday to discuss the case.
Jesse Brooks, formerly of Londonderry, was convicted in 2009 of helping recruit men to lure Jack Reid, 57, to a Deerfield horse barn, where he was beaten to death in 2005. Brooks is serving a 15- to 30-year prison term.
Brooks' father, John "Jay" Brooks, was convicted of capital murder and is serving life in prison without the chance of parole for his role in murdering Reid, whom he wrongly believed stole two of his moving trucks. The elder Brooks is a Derry native whose medical supply company made him a multi-millionaire; he was well-known in Republican Party circles during the 1990s.
Ciolino said Jesse Brooks was in a Clark County courthouse in Las Vegas on a gun charge at the time that Joseph Vrooman testified the murder plan was hatched with Jesse and John Brooks at the Brooks' home, about a dozen miles from the courthouse.
"The biggest development (in Jesse Brooks' defense) is the destroying of this so-called meeting that never happened," said Ciolino,
He said he has the docket sheet from the courthouse that states that Jesse Brooks was present. He said that the younger Brooks later went to a doctor's office and then to a Walgreens drug store to pick up a prescription.
"The whole case was based on lies," he said.
Attorney General Michael Delaney and Senior Assistant Attorney Janice Rundles, who worked on the case, didn't respond to emails seeking comment.
Part of a team that includes a retired FBI special agent, Ciolino plans at Monday's news conference to play some of the jailhouse telephone calls "where the two star witnesses clear Jesse Brooks in their own words," he said. "They exonerate him."
Michael Benton of Manchester pleaded guilty to second-degree murder for delivering the first blows to Reid's head with a hammer. Vrooman of Las Vegas pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit murder and hindering apprehension. Vrooman pushed Reid into Benton's path, then helped destroy bloody floorboards and other evidence.
Ciolino said he obtained telephone tapes from Benton's time at the Valley Street jail in Manchester and Vrooman's time at a county jail in New Hampshire.
"Benton outright says he's (Jesse) not involved in everyday language," Ciolino said. "Vrooman hints about it."
Both men are serving time in out-of-state prisons, he said.
Ciolino, whom Mrs. Brooks hired two years ago, said he was surprised by the amount of evidence and paperwork that prosecutors and police generated from the Reid case.
"They had more files than the Kennedy-Oswald commission," he said.
Jesse Brooks is being held in a maximum-security prison in Winslow, Ariz., where Ciolino has visited him.
"He's bright ... he's not a cry baby," Ciolino said. "He has told his mother, 'Mom, get on with your life. Forget about me.'"
But his mother has ignored his advice.
"The Brooks family is capable of financing this defense," Ciolino said. "Mrs. Brooks is committed to getting her son out of prison."