Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Former Officer Robert Brooks Could Get New Murder Trial

A former Calverton Park Police Officer sentenced to life in prison for killing his fiancé, a Normandy Police Officer, could get a new trial. This comes after the Missouri Supreme Court threw out the conviction Tuesday, sending the case back to Jefferson County for a new trial.

Normandy Police Chief Frank Mininni calls Amanda Cates a great police officer and says he still struggles with her death.

Now, Chief Mininni and others are struggling with the Missouri high courts 14 page decision.

"I was shocked. I was in shock, said Mininni reacting to the decision."

The move throws out the conviction of former Calverton Park Police Officer Robert Brooks.

"I don't think you'd be human if it didn't make you angry," explained Mininni.

In August of 2007, Brooks was convicted of shooting and killing his 26 year old fiancé, Normandy Police Officer Amanda Cates.

The incident happened a year earlier at the Crystal City home that Cates and Brooks shared. Cates was a school resource officer at Normandy Middle School. Mininni, who sat through the first trial, says coping with Amanda's death has been tough.

The prospect of another trial is daunting.

Mininni told us, "I think the most difficult part of this is that were going to have to sit in a courtroom with Amanda's family again. Were going to have to re-live everything that happened night."

In a unanimous decision, the Supreme Court ruled that prosecutors violated Brooks' constitutional rights by using his right to remain silent against him. The court ruled that during the trial prosecutors pointed out that Brooks would not tell them what happened the night of the killing after he was read his Miranda Rights.

The court said those statements by prosecutors implied that Brooks was guilty because he didn't talk.

Joe Yeckel and Michael Gross represented brooks at the Missouri Supreme Court.

"I felt that Mr. Brooks didn't get a fair trial the first go around and the Supreme Court is giving him another opportunity to have a fair trial," said Yeckel.

Memories of Amanda are at the Normandy Police Department and at a nearby park. Mininni says he's still waiting for justice for Amanda.

He told us, "We're confident that the outcome of this new trial will be the exact same as the last trial."

The Normandy Police Department and Cates family have started a scholarship in Amanda's memory.

A spokesperson with the Missouri Attorney Generals Office tells us they haven't decided yet whether to ask for another hearing on the case before the Supreme Court.

Jefferson County Prosecuting Attorney Forrest Wegge says he will re-try the case if it comes back to his office.

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