Timothy Brooks a quiet, peaceful man, witnesses say
Sun News Service
AUBURN ” Timothy Brooks is a sweet, polite, quiet man who is peaceful, witnesses testified at his murder trial Tuesday. Friends of victim Robert Ash testified that the 47-year-old Newcastle developer was also non-violent, rebutting testimony given Monday.
Both sides rested their cases Tuesday evening.
Brooks, 26, is charged with an open count of murder for fatally stabbing Robert Ash last August in Tahoe City. Brooks has pled not guilty and his defense team says he stabbed Ash in self defense.
Jeff Quittman, Brooks’ history, civics and economics teacher during his last two years at Orinda Academy, testified that he never saw Brooks exhibit violent or aggressive behavior.
“He was always very gentle,” Quittman noted. “He had a soft demeanor.”
Brooks, dressed in a blue sweater and grey slacks, showed emotion for the first time during his trial by tearing up when Quittman was on the stand. He nodded at his old teacher as Quittman exited the courtroom.
Carolyn Davis Rudolph, the mother of Brooks’ best friend, said she has known Brooks since he was 8 years old and that he “was like a son to me.” Rudolph, a retired teacher, said Brooks was “very sweet, very polite, very quiet,” who became “very focused, very thoughtful” when he grew up.
Brooks smiled and nodded at Rudolph as she sat with his family in the courtroom after testifying, and later gave her a hug.
Truckee resident Michael Melton, who has a home next door to Brooks’ mother in Truckee, testified that he employed Brooks during the summers of 2004 and 2005 as a carpenter and that Brooks never showed any aggression during that time. Melton said he would yell and swear at Brooks when Brooks messed up but that the 26-year-old “just accepted it.”
A friend of Brooks’ from the University of California, Berkeley, and a fellow history major, Nicole Kinsey, said Brooks became upset at her once when she repeatedly missed meetings with him, but noted that he didn’t yell at her.
Deputy District Attorney Christopher Cattran asked each character witness if they thought Brooks was the kind of man who would flip off a driver, carry a knife to slash a tire, spit in the face of another person during an argument or punch a man two times, all actions the defense or prosecution said Brooks did last August before he stabbed Ash. Each witness said that would be out of character for Brooks.
“Do you know what a murderer looks like,” Cattran asked Melton.
“Just like you and me,” the pony-tailed Melton responded.
Judge Robert McElhany ruled earlier in the day that the prosecution could call witnesses to rebut testimony given Monday that Ash was a violent man, but that the questions could only relate to Ash’s character traits.
Gary Satterle, who knew Ash for seven years because their sons played football together, testified that he and Ash played golf and went to concerts together.
“My opinion is that he was the most non-violent man I knew,” Satterle said. “He was always smiling.”
Stephen Jones, a friend of Ash’s for 25 years, and Barbara Hampton, who sold three cars in five years to Robert and Mimi Ash, both said Ash was non-violent. Lawrence Austere, who said he had been Ash’s best friend for the past five years, testified that Ash had a lot of friends and was an occasional cigar smoker.
“I would say there is nothing violent about him,” Hampton testified of Ash.
Topel asked the four witnesses variations on questions of whether they thought acts that Ash had allegedly committed in the past were considered violent and if that would change their opinion of their friend.
The defense’s private investigator Grant Fine and Detective Sgt. Corie Quillinan were both called to the stand briefly by the defense.
Cattran called various rebuttal witnesses Tuesday afternoon, including Sacramento Sheriff’s Deputy Linda Giannelli, who read from her report on an incident that took place between Ash and Daniel Greitzer in 1995. Giannelli read from her report that Greitzer said Ash was apologetic and offered to clean Greitzer’s office after Ash swiped contents off Greitzer’s desk during an argument. Ash wanted $100 returned for a resume that Greitzer had written for Mimi Ash that contained errors in it.
Golf pro Jerry Poley, Davis Electric foreman Gary McFall and Lincoln police officer John Paul Shaw were all called to rebut testimony given Monday over an incident at a Lincoln golf course in May 2004. On Monday, witnesses testified that Ash had punched and kicked to the ground John Chavez, after Chavez “flipped off” Ash and called his son a “fat ass.” Kristie Goucher, who was volunteering as a cart girl that day, had testified that she tried to break up the fight when Ash grabbed her by the arms, threw her up against a car repeatedly and called her a “stupid bitch.” She also said a “Harley-looking guy” pulled Ash off of her.
McFall, who is the “Harley-looking guy” Goucher referred to, said he remembered the fight but did not see Ash grab Goucher or pull him off of her. Poley also said he did not see Goucher at the scene and said Chavez was the one who was violent toward Poley and threatened him.
Officer Shaw said he wanted to press charges against Chavez for disorderly conduct, but that was denied. However, Ash was charged with battery and assault for the incident. Shaw’s police report indicated the incident started when Ash asked a group of guys to be quiet while he putted and one of the men said “It would be nice if they could learn how to play.” Ash’s son’s friend then flipped off the guy, who then gave the finger back to Ash and the two children.
After a brief meeting in the judge’s chambers, both the defense and prosecution rested their cases. There will be a recess Wednesday and the trial will resume Thursday at 8:30 a.m. when both sides will give closing arguments.