Jury selection begins in Brooks murder trial

BRADENTON - Attorneys have begun the process of picking a jury in the first-degree murder trial of former Lakewood Ranch High quarterback Tim Brooks.

Brooks, 19, also faces a charge of robbery with a firearm in the July 13, 2008, shooting death of 19-year-old William White Jr.

Prosecutors say Brooks shot White during a robbery as White sat in the passenger seat of a car, in the 1600 block of 27th Avenue Drive East.

Brooks’ attorney Assistant Public Defender Peter Belmont and prosecutor Assistant State Attorney Art Brown began questioning a pool of more than 70 jurors seeking to a find a panel for the trial which is expected to last all week.

Circuit Judge Debra Riva read potential jurors a statement outlining the charges against Brooks, which also referenced Brooks’ past as a high school football player. She also quizzed the panel about their prior knowledge of the case due to media coverage, to which around two dozen said they did.

Another man, Cody Rogers, also 19, is also charged with White’s killing as the state says he aided Brooks in the robbery. He is scheduled for a separate trial from Brooks early next year.

Manatee County Sheriff’s Office reports say White was a passenger in the car of Jacob Cunnien, and the men went to 27th Avenue Drive East to buy marijuana.

On the way out of the neighborhood, witnesses said Cunnien stopped the vehicle and bought a Xanax pill from a man.

While the car was stopped, Cunnien said Rogers approached the driver’s side and pointed a gun at him, while Brooks pointed a gun at White from the passenger side of the car.

Cunnien told authorities he started to drive away when Brooks opened fire, killing White. Cunnien later picked Brooks and Rogers out of a photo lineup, and he is expected to testify at their trials.

Brooks has maintained that he was not at the scene of the shooting, and Belmont is expected to present witnesses to corroborate Brooks’ claim.

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