By Ruben Castaneda
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, October 24, 2009
A 20-year-old Landover man who in recent years has been acquitted of two slayings -- and is awaiting trial in a third homicide -- was sentenced by a Prince George's County judge Friday to 23 years in prison for an armed carjacking.
Circuit Court Judge Beverly J. Woodard imposed the sentence, which is more than double the amount of time recommended by advisory state sentencing guidelines, on Jacob L. Brooks, who turned 20 this week.
During a sentencing hearing in the Upper Marlboro courthouse, Assistant State's Attorney Joseph C. Ruddy urged Woodard to send Brooks to prison for the maximum amount of time allowable under the law -- 33 years.
Ruddy recounted a slew of charges Brooks has faced during the past 18 months that for various reasons were dropped: attempted murder, assault and handgun violations. In addition, Ruddy said, Brooks is charged with two assaults in the county jail, one on a guard and one on an inmate.
"He is beyond rehabilitation," Ruddy said. "He is a danger inside the prison system and outside."
Brooks's attorney, Assistant Public Defender Janet Callis, asked for a sentence within the sentencing guidelines, which recommend a term of five to 10 years for the offenses of which Brooks was convicted: carjacking, auto theft and a handgun violation.
Callis said Woodard should not consider arrests that did not lead to convictions, and she called Brooks a "minor offender."
"A minor offender. Really?" Woodard said.
"Yes," Callis replied.
Given a chance to speak, Brooks said he apologized to carjacking victim Sylvia Alexander, "but I ain't never had anything to do with a carjacking."
"I ain't a bad guy, for real," Brooks said. "I'd appreciate it if you'd sentence me within the guidelines."
Woodard said she understood that Brooks said he has often been unjustly accused, but that "there's no way he's a minor offender.
"It's a continuum that can't be ignored, and I'm not going to ignore it," she said.
Brooks was convicted of carjacking Alexander at gunpoint on Nov. 7, 2008, in Landover. County police quickly spotted the stolen Pontiac Grand Prix and chased it. Before he was caught, Brooks was seen trying to hide something under the front of the car. Police found a 9mm Ruger semiautomatic pistol there, according to police charging documents.
A firearms test showed the shell casings from the Ruger matched those used in a killing four days before the carjacking, according to police documents. The victim, Daryl T. Clark, 36, was fatally shot while walking the family dog in Landover, and Brooks was charged with murder. The trial is scheduled for Nov. 16.
Eight months before the carjacking and the Clark slaying, Circuit Court Judge Sheila R. Tillerson-Adams granted a motion by Brooks's attorney to cut short a five-year sentence he was serving.
In 2007, a county jury acquitted Brooks of first-degree murder and other charges in the 2005 slaying of Lakita Danielle Tolson, 19, outside a Temple Hills nightclub. Brooks was accused of providing the handgun to the shooter. Brooks entered Alford pleas to two counts of second-degree assault, which meant he acknowledged that the state had enough evidence for a conviction. In March 2008, Tillerson-Adams reduced Brooks's sentence to time served.
Also in 2007, Brooks was acquitted in the 2006 slaying of a longtime friend, Eric S. Holland, 18, in 2006. Prosecutors accused Brooks of killing Holland because he thought Holland was cooperating with police on the nightclub shooting.