Broderick Brooks Sr. was an East Feliciana School Board member, a 34-year-old married father of three, an organist and singer in his church, and a recently ordained minister when he was shot to death in north Baton Rouge in May 2016. He also harbored a dark secret, a prosecutor said Wednesday at the trial of his accused killer.
Brooks was unclothed from the waist down when he was found dead behind the wheel of his running car on Wenonah Street at Winbourne Avenue, an East Baton Rouge Parish jury learned as the second-degree murder trial of 20-year-old Jacquez Griffin, of Baton Rouge, got underway.
A 19-year-old man who was out on bail on a 2015 armed robbery charge when he allegedly shot …
Prosecutor Zachary Daniels, in his opening statement to the jury, was vague about what Brooks was doing that night in the area of north Baton Rouge but acknowledged he had a "secret desire" and was leading "two different lives." The prosecutor also said Griffin had a "secret way to make money'' — a reference to alleged sexual acts.
Daniels, who argued Brooks was killed during an armed robbery, asked jurors not to judge Brooks' conduct but to instead judge Griffin's actions that night. Brooks' wallet and phone were missing.
Griffin's attorney, Jason Hessick, argued to the jury that Brooks came to north Baton Rouge looking for young men to perform sexual acts on him. Hessick alleged Brooks "tempted" Griffin into his car with the promise of a ride home and then tried to force Griffin to perform a sex act on him. He said Griffin shot Brooks in self-defense.
"This is a man who had a dark secret in his life," Hessick said of Brooks in his opening statement. Brooks, he said, "went too far."
"This was an inevitability of those sins catching up with him," Hessick added.
The prosecution's first witness, Brooks' wife, Krischell Williams-Brooks, told Hessick she was unaware of what Daniels described as her husband's secret. Brooks, she said, had recently been ordained a minister before he was killed.
The 19-year-old man suspected of robbing and fatally shooting East Feliciana Parish School B…
"It seems you were just as much a victim of his secret life as my client was," Hessick said as he completed his questioning of Brooks' widow and turned to walk back to the defense table.
The jury saw photographs of Brooks, with only a shirt on, slumped over in his white Nissan Altima, which bore the personalized license plate "VOCALST." The car came to rest with its front bumper against a fire hydrant in front of a house. The car had been there for at least two hours. The glove compartment was open and empty, its contents scattered on the front passenger seat and on the ground outside the passenger door.
Brooks' body showed signs of recent sexual activity, according to police reports.
Zac Woodring, a Baton Rouge police homicide detective, testified the part of town where Brooks was killed is known as Dixie, a high-crime area known for prostitution and drugs.
Authorities have said Griffin confessed to the fatal shooting after investigators searched his Chippewa Street home and discovered the loaded .40-caliber handgun used to kill Brooks. The gun, with a damaged magazine, was hidden within the lining of a suitcase. Pieces of a gun magazine were found on the ground near Brooks' car. Several shell casings were found a block and a half away on Erie Street, where police believe Brooks was shot. The gun found in Griffin's house matched those casings.
Woodring said Griffin's DNA was located inside Brooks' car, and Louisiana State Police Crime Lab fingerprint analyst Julie Bergen testified that Griffin's fingerprints were found on a pair of sunglasses found on the ground near the car.
Griffin, at the time of Brooks' slaying, was out on bail after being accused of armed robbery with a firearm and resisting arrest in an April 2015 incident in which the victim identified Griffin as one of the people who robbed him of his bicycle at gunpoint.