Quarterback’s murder trial pushed to November

rnapper@bradenton.comSeptember 16, 2009 

BRADENTON — Difficulties in locating key witnesses for the murder case against former Lakewood Ranch High School quarterback Tim Brooks has pushed his trial to November.

Brooks, 19, had been set to go on trial Monday in the July 13, 2008, slaying of 19-year-old William White in what prosecutors have called a robbery attempt.

A grand jury indicted Brooks and his co-defendant, Cody Rogers, on charges of first-degree murder and armed robbery.

Manatee County Sheriff’s Office reports say White and a friend had driven to the 1600 block of 27th Avenue Drive East, where the shooting occurred, and bought marijuana.

When the driver of the car stopped after seeing someone they knew, Rogers and Brooks approached the vehicle armed with revolvers, and Brooks snatched a chain off White’s neck before shooting him the chest, according to sheriff’s reports.

One out-of-state witness to the shooting has not been cooperating with efforts by attorneys to take pre-trial statements, which could lead to him being dismissed from testifying, Roger’s attorneys argued in court Tuesday.

Assistant State Attorney Art Brown said the witness would be subpoenaed before that happens.

“Sometimes he takes my calls, sometimes he doesn’t,” Brown said.

There are six witnesses to the shooting who are expected to testify, and prosecutors also have Brooks’ handprint on the car White was riding in, according to court documents.

Rogers’ attorney Derek Byrd asked a judge to disallow the print at trial, saying it had nothing to do with his client.

Brown argued putting the print before a jury in Rogers’ case is needed because prosecutors are trying to prove he took part in a felony crime during which White was killed.

Circuit Judge Debra Riva said she is inclined to allow the print during Rogers’ trial, and said she will decide on the motion as trial begins.

Deputies arrested Brooks the day after the shooting, and Rogers was arrested a few days later in Clewiston, where his girlfriend lives. Statements by his girlfriend also may make it to trial, as sheriff’s reports say Rogers asked her come up with an alibi in White’s shooting.

Brooks, a former promising quarterback and wide receiver at Lakewood Ranch, has maintained his innocence since the shooting.

The witness problems also pushed Rogers’ trial, which will be separate from Brooks’, to February 2010.

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