Brooks to serve at least 16 years |

Brooks to serve at least 16 years

AUBURN ” A Placer County judge Wednesday sentenced Timothy Brooks to no less than 16 years in prison and up to a maximum sentence of life for the murder of Robert Ash last August in Tahoe City.

Brooks, 26, must serve a minimum of 16 years before he is eligible for parole because a jury found him guilty of second-degree murder in April for fatally stabbing Ash outside Syd’s Bagelry on Aug. 17, 2005. Judge Robert McElhany gave Brooks 169 days credit for time already spent in jail, but he will not be eligible for other credit, such as for good behavior.

If granted parole in 16 years, Brooks will be eligible for a parole term of five years to life, McElhany ruled.

The half-hour hearing in the Placer County Jail courtroom included statements by Robert Ash’s mother, sister and wife to ask for the maximum sentence for Brooks.

Brooks and his mother also gave statements.

Janice Ash, mother of the 48-year-old Newcastle, Calif. developer, questioned Brooks’ actions during the incident in Tahoe City and throughout the two-week trial.

“Why did he show no remorse or emotion during the trial?” Janice Ash asked McElhany with tears in her eyes. “Any punishment will not take away the pain, but at least justice will have been served.”

Robert Ash’s wife, Mimi Ash, said she sat through the trial and listened as the defense portrayed her husband “in the worst possible light,” while they said Brooks was a “good boy.”

“I question the humanity and where it could have been that day,” Mimi Ash said of the day her husband was killed. “I have my doubts that he [Brooks] is a good boy. Appearances are not what they seem … Life is changed for us forever.”

Suzanne Brooks, mother of Timothy Brooks, spoke on behalf of the family and apologized to the Ash family for what happened, but said her son is not a murderer. She said society would benefit from “having him out in the world instead of locked up.”

“Tim was brought up in a hardworking, loving and respectful family,” Suzanne Brooks said. “He has a moral ethical code that he adheres to all the time. He has never been in trouble with the law or violent … Tim is not a murderer or hardened criminal. I am proud to call him my son and one of my best friends.”

After his mother spoke, Brooks stood up and turned to the Ash family, who was seated opposite Brooks in the courtroom.

“I want to look at you in the eye and say I never meant to kill Mr. Ash,” Brooks, dressed in an orange prison jumper and unshaven, said in a soft-spoken voice. “It is a terrible tragedy for Mr. Ash’s family and for mine.”

Marcus Topel, Brooks attorney, said his client should “be shown some sort of leniency.”

McElhany denied Brooks a new hearing or lesser sentence in June and Topel has said he will take the issue to an appellate court. Topel now has 60 days to file his appeal.

Brooks was also ordered to pay a mandatory $3,000 restitution fine that will go into the state’s victims restitution fund. McElhany imposed another $3,000 restitution fine that Brooks will have to pay if he is not paroled.

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