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16 years to life

AUBURN ” Timothy Brooks will be sentenced next month for second-degree murder after a judge denied him a retrial Friday.

Placer County Superior Court Judge Robert McElhany said he believed the evidence presented during the two-week trial in April was sufficient enough to support the murder verdict. He said some of the testimony provided during the trial was inconsistent, but denied the defense’s motion for a new trial or a lesser charge.

“We’re disappointed, but we’ll take it up to the appellate court,” defense attorney Marcus Topel said after the ruling.



A 12-member jury found Brooks, 26, guilty of second-degree murder and use of a deadly weapon for fatally stabbing Robert Ash in August 2005 outside of Syd’s Bagelry in Tahoe City after an alleged road rage incident on Highway 89 south.

Brooks now faces 16 years to life in prison.



Topel argued during the short hearing that his client’s testimony during the trial was credible and should warrant a reduced charge of voluntary manslaughter.

“That his testimony didn’t evade the issues, that his testimony was not exaggerated, that his testimony was of a quality that leads one to believe it was credible and true,” Topel said. “He genuinely, genuinely believed that he and his wife were in danger.”

Deputy District Attorney Christopher Cattran said the jury did not find Brooks credible and that the defense relied solely on their client’s testimony and not on the seven witnesses who testified.

“Witnesses all said they saw Mr. Ash in a defensive posture,” Cattran said. “Mr. Topel indicates the defendant was candid with the police and that’s not true. He [Brooks] said he had a black eye [from Ash]. He didn’t have a black eye.”

Judge McElhany looked thoughtful during the arguments, sitting with his hands clasped and his lower lip out. He took no time after the arguments to make his ruling, reading it in a monotone voice.

“I think the judge did a good job,” Cattran said outside the courthouse. “He followed the law, and I think made the right ruling.”

Sentencing is scheduled for July 5 at 11 a.m. in Auburn’s Department 13.


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