Brooks jury can't decide

Mistrial declared for man charged in Dec. 1996 killing

New trial expected

Deliberations end in deadlock reported at 11-1 for acquittal

October 29, 1999|By Andrea F. Siegel | Andrea F. Siegel,SUN STAFF

After deliberating about 10 hours over two days, an Anne Arundel County jury deadlocked yesterday, unable to decide whether Richard W. Brooks killed a Pasadena man in his home.

Anne Arundel Circuit Judge Joseph P. Manck declared a mistrial after the panel reportedly remained divided, 11-1, for acquittal.

The nine-woman, three-man jury began sending notes to court officials late Tuesday indicating it could not agree on a verdict, and yesterday morning sent two more saying the group was deadlocked.

Assistant State's Attorney Fred M. Paone said that "in all likelihood" prosecutors would retry the case.

"I'm disappointed. I think we will retry him," Paone said.

"This is the next best thing to getting a not guilty [verdict]," said Keith J. Gross, acting district public defender for the county.

Brooks, 34, of no fixed address, was charged with first-degree murder in the death Dec. 23, 1996, of James F. Holtgreve, whose body was found in a pool of blood in his home in the 700 block of Seaborne Court. He had been shot several times in the head, and his throat was cut.

Prosecutors intended to seek a life sentence without parole if Brooks was convicted.

Jurors heard testimony for 3 1/2 days.

The prosecution's case relied heavily on DNA evidence, which the defense attacked.

Paone had hoped to place Brooks at the crime scene by showing that Brooks' blood was in the victim's pants pocket and that his saliva was on a motorcycle helmet in the kitchen. Holtgreve's wallet was missing.

Although experts for the prosecution said the genetic material from the blood in Holtgreve's pants most likely came from Brooks, experts for the defense said it most likely did not come from the defendant.

The defense did not dispute that the DNA on the helmet came from Brooks. But Gross and assistant public defender Patrick J. Kent contended it was not connected to the crime.

Paone told jurors that Brooks left the helmet at Holtgreve's home the night of the killing. Brooks, who also is charged with two armed robberies in unrelated cases, did not testify.

In attempting to show a connection between Holtgreve and Brooks, police officers testified that Holtgreve, 32, a member of the Pagans motorcycle club, had asked Brooks to steal a motorcycle for him.

One of Holtgreve's former roommates testified that the victim was having problems with fellow Pagans in fall 1996.

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