One-armed man guilty of manslaughter in car-wash killing|[03/22/07]

Published 12:00 am Thursday, March 22, 2007

The mother of a Vicksburg man who died after a beating at a car wash in October 2005 said she is &#8220glad it’s over” after his killer, Benjamin Brooks, was convicted of manslaughter by a Warren County jury Wednesday.

Circuit Judge Isadore Patrick is expected to sentence Brooks April 13. He faces a maximum of 20 years in prison.

&#8220It’s been almost two years,” Corine Holmes said. &#8220He said he didn’t intend to do it, so I guess the jury believed him. I hope he gets the maximum sentence. My son didn’t have a chance to plea.”

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Jurors returned their ruling in 48 minutes and a murder verdict was possible. That verdict would have resulted in a sentence of life without parole.

Brooks, 32, 469 Union Ave., was arrested Oct. 23, 2005, four days after he hit Derral Holmes, 25, 933 Bowmar Ave., in the back of his head with an aluminum baseball bat at T&S Tunnel Express on Pemberton Square Boulevard. Brooks was charged with aggravated assault until Holmes died at University Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson.

Brooks, who has one arm, admitted to jurors Wednesday he attacked Holmes from behind before he returned the bat to the car-wash office and left the scene.

&#8220He called me (a profanity) while I was running a credit card,” Brooks said. &#8220That’s when I grabbed the bat. I had enough, and my mind just went blank. I wasn’t trying to kill him.”

He drove to his sister’s house on Jones Alley, Brooks told jurors, and waited for Vicksburg police to arrive.

Later, at police headquarters, he told then-Investigator Brad Derrington he had no confrontation with Holmes the day of the attack and that he &#8220paused” before striking him. Thus, Assistant District Attorney John Bullard asked the jury to convict him of a planned, premeditated murder as opposed to a sudden, impulsive act.

&#8220There’s no doubt he thought about it ahead of time,” Bullard said during closing arguments. &#8220The only question is whether he acted in the heat of passion. You may feel sorry for Benjamin Brooks, but he put himself there.”

Brooks deserved a murder conviction, Bullard said, because he admitted to police he thought about what he was about to do before he did it, and that he hit Brooks in the head and body several times.

&#8220You could have hit him in the knee or side