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Case forwarded against man accused of assaulting brother

Robert L. Brooks is accused of using a black powder handgun to kidnap sibling

Robert L. Brooks is accused of using a black powder handgun to kidnap sibling

January 22, 2008|By HEATHER KEELS

HAGERSTOWN ? Charges may go forward against a man accused of kidnapping his brother with a black powder handgun, despite weaknesses in both brothers' stories, a Washington County District Court judge ruled Tuesday.

Robert L. Brooks Jr., 44, of 15595 Jacobs Church Road in Blue Ridge Summit, Pa., will face charges of kidnapping and first-degree assault in Washington County Circuit Court, according to court records.

The defendant's brother, John Patrick Brooks, told police Robert Brooks Jr. threatened to shoot him Dec. 28 over money owed to the family business, then kidnapped him to help collect on an unpaid debt, according to charging documents.

At Tuesday's preliminary hearing, the defense argued John Brooks had not acted as though he was forced to go along, while the prosecution questioned Robert Brooks' claim that the loaded, black powder muzzle-loader .44-caliber handgun found in his car was used for hunting.

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Judge Ralph H. France II said these were legitimate questions to raise at trial.

"You'd have to be some kind of super shot to be hunting with a pistol, unless you're Gene Autry or the Lone Ranger or something," France said.

Dispute about money owed

John Brooks told police that Robert Brooks arrived at his house just before 10 a.m., pointed the loaded gun at him and said he was going to shoot him, Hagerstown Police officer D.M. White said. The dispute was over money owed to the contracting business the brothers own, White said.

John Brooks then went upstairs to change clothes and called his girlfriend, White said. He told his girlfriend that Robert Brooks was going to kill him and told her goodbye, White said.

"He was afraid his brother would shoot him if he tried to run," White said.

White said he thought it was John Brooks' girlfriend who originally called police about the situation.

John Brooks told police he and his brother then drove to the home of Keith Frazier, where John Brooks got out and attempted to collect money from Frazier, White said. After that, the brothers went to District Court, where John Brooks said he would file charges against Frazier for the money he owed them, White said. There, bailiffs called police, according to charging documents.

Robert Brooks denies accusations

When police arrived at the courthouse, Robert Brooks was sitting in a car outside, presumably waiting for John Brooks to return, White said.

When police interviewed Robert Brooks, he said he had not pointed the gun at his brother at any point and said he had it because he was an avid hunter, White said.

Public defender Andrea Chee-a-tow asked White if John Brooks had told him the brothers stopped for gas or that John Brooks had gone inside Frazier's house for 10 minutes, then come back out. White said he had not.

Chee-a-tow said John Brooks did not act as though he was being forced to do anything, and common sense suggested a kidnapper would not allow his victim to go into a courthouse unattended.

Brooks' bond lowered to $100,000

"The facts do not add up to probable cause for a kidnapping," she said.

However, Deputy State's Attorney Steven C. Kessell said John Brooks told police he did not feel free to leave at any point.

France said even if the perceived kidnapping were a misunderstanding, the loaded gun found in Robert's car was "scary in its concept" and could have led to disastrous consequences.

"Whatever the event was, a loaded pistol is frightening to contemplate," he said.

France agreed to lower Robert's bond to $100,000. Previously, it was set at $250,000, court records show.

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