BRADENTON — There is no doubt in the minds of Linda and William White Sr. that former Lakewood Ranch High quarterback Tim Brooks took their son’s life.
That certainty may be matched only by that of Joyce Brooks, who took the stand in a Manatee courtroom Monday to proclaim she is just as sure that her son, despite a jury’s verdict last month that he was guilty of first-degree murder and armed robbery, is not a killer.
The two views of Tim Brooks, 19, came to a head Monday as Manatee Circuit Judge Debra Riva sentenced him to life in prison for killing White during a botched robbery July 13, 2008.
Despite Brooks’ mother proclaiming her son’s innocence, White’s parents tearfully said Brooks deserved the punishment he received for killing their 19-year-old son.
“Justice was served,” Linda White said after the hearing. “No matter what his mom said, I feel they got the right man.”
Brooks’ mother said she believes her son is not capable of the violence that took White’s life. She asked to face the White family from the witness stand to speak on her son’s behalf.
“There was nothing brought forward to prove my child did such a thing,” Joyce Brooks said. “I can say my son is not a killer.”
Given a chance to speak Monday before a packed courtroom, Tim Brooks did not claim innocence.
“If this is the Lord’s will, I can’t change that. I will leave it at that,” he said.
Testimony at his trial showed that Brooks and another man, Cody Rogers, 19, approached a car White was riding in as a passenger.
The driver of the car, Jakob Cunnien, testified that when he stopped his car that night after seeing someone he knew, Rogers approached the driver’s side of the car, and Brooks the passenger side.
Both men were armed and robbed Cunnien and White, according to prosecutors. As Cunnien tried to drive away, he testified that Brooks opened fire on White, killing him.
Several other witnesses also testified that a gun blast erupted from the passenger side of the car where Brooks was standing. Also, a palm print found on Cunnien’s car after the shooting matched Brooks.
After the sentencing hearing, William White Sr. said in response to Joyce Brooks’ statements that every morning he sits down for breakfast he looks at an urn holding his son’s ashes.
“We get to look at an urn everyday,” White said in tears. “I feel bad for their family, but they had their son for the holidays. We didn’t.”
Prosecutors also have charged Rogers with murder and robbery in White’s death, saying he aided Brooks in the robbery that led to White’s death.
Rogers, who is free on bail and attended Brooks’ sentencing hearing but said nothing, is scheduled to go on trial in February. He faces life in prison if convicted.
Facing another trial next month will be difficult, William White said, but both he and his wife said they want the same outcome for Rogers.
“This is like an ongoing nightmare,” he said. “But we will be back again for the next trial, seeking justice for my son.”