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Prosecution rests murder case against Brooks

BRADENTON - The prosecution this afternoon rested its case against accused murderer Tim Brooks, and his attorney's were set to begin presenting a defense.

Earlier today, the jury in Brooks' murder trial watched a videotape of his interview with detectives in the days after the slaying of William White Jr. In the interview, Brooks contended that a witness who identified him as the killer always hated him.

Brooks, a former Lakewood Ranch High School quarterback, told detectives that Jakob Cunnien, who had been driving the car White was riding in when he was shot, implicated him because of that hate.

Cunnien also hated Brooks' friend, Cody Rogers, who is also accused of murder in White's death, Brooks told detectives during the interview.

"Jake never like us since day one," Brooks told detectives.

The problem, detectives said, was that they had told Brooks the driver of the car had identified him as White's shooter, but they had not named Cunnien before Brooks brought his name up.

"Can you see how that is a problem for us?" Manatee County Sheriff's Office Detective Sam Levita can be heard asking on the video.

Brooks said he identified Cunnien as the driver of the car before detectives told him because word had spread through the street and a friend told him prior to the interview.

Brooks claimed at the time and still maintains he was not at the scene of the shooting.

Prosecutors say on July 13, 2008, White and Cunnien had driven to the area of 27th Avenue Drive East to buy drugs when Brooks and Rogers confronted them with pistols.

Witnesses have testified that Brooks opened fire on White through an open passenger side window. Rogers was also later charged with murder as prosecutors say he aided Brooks in the robbery that led to White's death.

Brooks has maintained his innocence, and jurors heard him maintain his innocence throughout the video statement. He told detectives he had left the neighborhood where the shooting occurred around 6:30 p.m. and went to his sister's house in Palmetto, where he spent the night.

Detectives estimated that the shooting took place around 8 p.m., and Brooks said he only heard about the shooting as family members called him in the hours afterwards.

Brooks has been on trial all week on charges of first-degree murder and robbery with a firearm. He faces life in prison if convicted.

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