Jennings County Sheriff’s Department deputies Drew Heilers, left, and Anthony Maberry lead Jody Brooks from the Jennings County Courthouse after his trial ended Thursday.—Staff Photo by Bryce Mayer
It took a Jennings County Circuit Court jury less than two hours of deliberations Thursday to return a guilty verdict of felony murder against Jody Michael Brooks, 23, of North Vernon.
The jury of eight women and four men convicted Brooks of killing Richard A. Smith in a brutal beating in downtown North Vernon on Oct. 17, 2014, that Jennings County prosecuting attorney Brian Belding called a "stomping death."
JoVonnie Mays, 22, of Seymour, is also charged in the murder with his jury trial currently scheduled to start Jan. 26, though expected to be postponed.
"The jury made the right decision," Belding said after the Brooks trial ended. "We are pleased with the conviction."
The jury's quick decision Thursday was in stark contrast to Brooks' first trial last August when a different panel could not overcome a reported 11-1 impasse on two of the charges: murder and robbery resulting in serious bodily injuries. That resulted in a mistrial and the second trial was scheduled.
"Everyone on my staff put in a lot of work, just like they did the first trial," Belding said. "They did a great job, as did the jury."
All the same witnesses testified as in Brooks' first trial, except Mays, along with two additional people, a Jennings County jailer and a probation officer. The testimony of the latter, Chasity Gerkin, added to the case against Brooks, according to Belding. She related how Brooks was upset with Mays for his testimony during the first trial in which he blamed the killing on Brooks.
This week's Pets of the Week at the Jennings County Animal Control Shelter are Tess, a 1-year-old intact female orange domestic shorthair; and Richard, a 2-year-old intact male black Lab mix. For more information on adopting these or other animals, call Animal Control at 812-346-5725 or stop by 580 W. CR 350N. Hours are 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekdays and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 5 to 7 p.m. on Saturdays (except holidays).-Submitted photos
The annual Our Hospice of Jennings County Mardi Gras themed gala benefit is scheduled for Saturday, February 6, 2016, at St. Mary's Church (Klingner Hall), 212 Washington Street, North Vernon. The evening will begin at 6 p.m. with a social hour, silent auction and cash bar. Also included in the evening's events are dinner, entertainment and a live auction. Tickets are $35 per person. For tickets call Our Hospice of Jennings County at 812-346-5944.
Santa and a few of his elves will be there. So will Tom the friendly conductor.
The Jennings County Players are busy rehearsing for "10,000 Hallelujahs." At left is Lois Kellar. Mary, portrayed by Carolyn Doxsee, in chair, listens as children sing to her: Holly Tyler, from left, Chloe Vermillion, Hanah Owens and Harmony Ernstes. The Christmas play will be presented the weekend of Dec. 4-6 at the Park Theatre Civic Centre.-Staff Photo by Bryce Mayer