Murder charge reduced in road-rage case
October 28, 2005
TAHOE CITY ” A Placer County Superior Court judge reduced the murder charge Tuesday for Timothy Brooks, who stands accused for allegedly stabbing and killing Robert Ash outside Syd’s Bagelry in Tahoe City on Aug. 17.
Brooks, 26, now faces charges of involuntary manslaughter. Judge James Dawson said he felt there had not been malicious forethought on Brooks’ part to constitute a murder charge.
Judge Dawson also allowed Brooks to post bail at $250,000 and ordered him to surrender any passports. Brooks had previously been held in Placer County Jail in Auburn without bail.
An arraignment on the new charge has been set for Tuesday, Nov. 15, at 8:30 a.m. in Auburn, at which time a trial date will be set for Brooks.
Dawson said he would not rule on Ash’s “rap sheet” since the case is leaving his court room.
Placer County Deputy District Attorney Chris Cattran presented four witnesses – all Placer County Sheriff’s deputies or detectives – during the day-long preliminary trial Tuesday. During their testimonies, the officers answered questions relating to Aug. 17 and what witnesses had told them they saw transpire that day.
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Defense attorney Marcus Topel tried to show that Ash was the aggressor in the argument between he and Brooks that led to Ash being stabbed in the abdomen. He also touched on the testimony several times by Placer Deputy John Lasagna. Lasagna said that Brooks had approached him and said something to the effect of, “I think I ruined my life. I’m the guy who stabbed him.” Topel said that shows that Brooks went to turn himself in.
But Cattran noted that Brooks and his wife, Susanne Brooks, were leaving the scene in their car when they were approached by Richard Rutherford, an off-duty Tuolumne County Sheriff who witnessed the altercation at Syd’s. It was described in court that Rutherford chased the Brooks’ and said to Timothy Brooks, “You just hurt a man.” Rutherford then waved down sheriff’s deputies, according to Lasagna and Deputy Joshua Shelton.
“Mr. Rutherford is the one who stopped them [the Brooks’],” Cattran said, stating that it is “disingenuous” to assume that Brooks turned himself in.