Tears flowed Wednesday from the family of victims and the defendant in the Smith County 241st District courtroom as a 22-year-old Tyler man received a life sentence on multiple charges of aggravated sexual assault of a child and indecency with a child.
“If the child is under the age of six, then the law says no parole is given — he will never get out of jail,” Parrish said. He explained that if Brookbank had pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting the older children (6 or older), the defendant could have received parole.
The case began in July when Brookbank was charged with sexually assaulting five young children between the ages of 5 and 10 years old while in a clubhouse in a wooded area on a property off Shiloh Road.
Tyler police spokesman Don Martin said that a 9-year-old girl reported that she and several of her friends were sexually assaulted several times during a month.
Brookbank entered the open plea of guilty to all three charges on Feb. 22. An open plea means that no agreement was made between prosecutors and defense attorneys before Brookbank entered the plea, Parrish said.
During the hearing, Clarissa Brookbank, the defendant's grandmother, took the stand and was questioned by defense attorney Clifton Roberson and Parrish. Ms. Brookbank said she and her husband had raised the defendant from birth because the defendant's drug-addicted mother, who is her daughter, said she didn't want him.
After his birth, Ms. Brookbank testified that her daughter told medical personnel she “wasn't going to raise the little (expletive)” and to give the boy to her parents to raise.
The grandmother told the attorneys and the judge that when the defendant was young he bullied younger children and killed small animals, including her 12-year-old male dachshund named “Yo-Yo.”
“The state of California wanted to make him wait until he was 7,” Ms. Brookbank said.
Unable to control Brookbank after he turned 12, Ms. Brookbank said she and her husband sent him to live in a group home until he turned 18.
“We tried to give him the best life we could, and we loved him as much as we could,” Ms. Brookbank testified.
Parrish questioned the defendant's grandmother about the time after the defendant left the California group home and came to Tyler to live with them. Ms. Brookbank said her grandson worked part time.
“We heard his chances of reoffending were zero,” she said.
Ms. Brookbank testified she was never aware of her grandson being sexually attracted to young children. She said she and her husband, each summer, fed lunch and a snack to a large number of young children who lived in their trailer park.
“Many of the parents were single, and children were left alone all over the trailer park during the summer,” she said.
“We are so very sorry this happened — if we had our way, this never would have happened,” Ms. Brookbank said after her questioning was finished.
Parrish described in detail during his closing statements the sexual assaults that Brookbank pleaded guilty to performing on the young children.
Reading from the pre-sentence investigative report, Parrish quoted the defendant as telling police that he would have continued to assault young children if he hadn't been arrested because, “I can't control it.”
Roberson, in his closing arguments, asked Skeen to give his client 30 to 35 years in prison without parole.
“We talked about his childhood abandonment, abuse and suicide attempts, we need to look at this age and background — what type of punishment does he deserve?”
Roberson said to the judge.
Skeen said that he found Brookbank's words on not being able to control assaulting young children, “chilling.”