Monday, November 21, 2011

30 Years After Murdering His Own Children Ohio Man Executed

Brooks Sleeping Sons Were Ages 11, 15 And 17 When They Were Murdered In 1982
Re-printed from a story at WCPO Channel 9 on November 21st 2011

Reginald Brooks of Cleveland Heights OhioA man who fatally shot his three sons while they slept in 1982, shortly after his wife filed for divorce, was executed Tuesday with each of his hands clenched in an obscene gesture.

Reginald Brooks of East Cleveland died at 2:04 P.M. Tuesday November 15th, ending a nearly six-month break in the use of capital punishment in Ohio, which often trails only Texas in the number of annual inmate executions.

Brooks declined to make a final statement and remained silent. Witnesses, which included his former wife and her sisters, had a view of his left hand, its middle finger raised. Prison officials said he was making the same gesture with his right hand.

State and federal courts rejected attorneys' arguments that Brooks was not mentally competent and that the government hid relevant evidence that could have affected his case. The execution was delayed by more than three hours as attorneys exhausted Brooks' appeals. The U.S. Supreme Court refused Tuesday to halt the execution.

He is the fourth inmate in Ohio to be put to death using the surgical sedative pentobarbital as a stand-alone execution drug.

Beverly Brooks, who found Niarchos, 11; Vaughn, 15; and Reginald Jr., 17 dead when she returned from work - her two sisters sat silently, wearing white T-shirts printed with a photo of the boys during the execution.

Beverly Brooks did not comment, but one of her sisters, Monica Stephens, spoke on behalf of the family.

"Our nephews are gone, and they'll never be replaced," she said. "The memories we'll always have. The what-ifs we'll always have."

Reginald Brooks' two defense attorneys and two spiritual advisers were his witnesses.

At 66, Brooks is the oldest person put to death since Ohio resumed executions in 1999.

The defense argued Brooks was a paranoid schizophrenic who suffered from mental illness long before he shot his sons in the head as they slept at their East Cleveland home on a Saturday morning. Defense attorneys said Brooks believed his co-workers and wife were poisoning him and that he maintained his innocence, offering conspiracy theories about the killings that involved police, his relatives and a look-alike.

Beverly Brooks has said she believes the killings were an act of revenge for her divorce filing, not the result of mental illness.

Defense attorneys did not comment after the execution and did not immediately respond to email and phone messages.

Prosecutors acknowledged Brooks was mentally ill but disputed the notions that it caused the murders or made him incompetent. They said he planned merciless killings, bought a revolver two weeks in advance, confirmed he'd be home alone with the boys, targeted them when they wouldn't resist and fled on a bus with a suitcase containing a birth certificate and personal items that could help him start a new life.

Brooks was found competent for trial, and a three-judge panel convicted him.

Defense attorneys argued that prosecutors withheld information that would have supported a mental health defense and led the court to rule differently. Former Judge Harry Hanna, one of the three on the panel, told the Ohio Parole Board he would not have voted for the death penalty if he'd had information from police reports that were provided to the defense more recently.

If a three-judge panel hears a death penalty case, it must vote unanimously for a death sentence under Ohio law. The parole board recommended that Gov. John Kasich deny Brooks clemency, and he did.

References:
WCPO Channel 9, Man Gives Middle Finger As He's Executed
BBC, Ohio executes Reginald Brooks for killing own children
Huffington Post, Reginald Brooks Executed: Ohio Kills Man Who Murdered 3 Sleeping Sons