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Ex-LWR quarterback Brooks to be sentenced

BRADENTON — Former Lakewood Ranch High quarterback and convicted murderer Tim Brooks faces a mandatory life prison term when a judge sentences him today.

The 19-year-old will face Manatee Circuit Judge Debra Riva today at the sentencing. A jury found him guilty of murder and armed robbery last month in the shooting death of 19-year-old William White Jr.

Members of the White and Brooks families will have the opportunity to be heard by the judge before sentencing. Florida law mandates that a first-degree murder conviction be met with a life prison sentence.

Brooks was convicted Dec. 4 of shooting White during a botched robbery on 27th Avenue East near Brooks’ home. Brooks maintains his innocence and also will have the chance to address Riva should he choose to.

White had been riding in the passenger seat of a car on the night he was shot with driver Jakob Cunnien, according to prosecutors. They had traveled to the area of 27th Avenue East to buy marijuana.

As Cunnien drove out of the neighborhood, he stopped the car to talk to someone he knew. After the car stopped, Brooks and another man, Cody Rogers, approached the car armed with guns, Assistant State Attorney Art Brown told jurors.

Brooks snatched a chain off White’s neck and shot him through an open car window as Cunnien tried to drive away. Brooks denied even being at the scene, but evidence showed that a palm print found on Cunnien’s car matched Brooks.

Defense attorneys implicated Rogers as the shooter, while Brown said Rogers approached the car on the driver’s side and pointed a gun at Cunnien. Several witnesses testified to the contrary, saying a gun blast came from the passenger side of the car where Brooks had been standing.

The state also charged Rogers, 19, with first-degree murder and armed robbery, saying he aided Brooks in robbing White and Cunnien. He is slated to go on trial in February. He also faces life in prison if convicted.