YOUNGSTOWN - A Mahoning County Common Pleas Court judge on Thursday gave a partial victory to a man facing the death penalty in the 2010 killing of a Realtor on the city's East Side.
Judge James Evans ruled statements that Robert Brooks, 27, of Castalia Avenue, made to Brookfield police detectives should be suppressed because he was not read his rights before he spoke to them.
However, Evans let stand statements Brooks made to Youngstown and Boardman detectives, as well as an identification from a photo lineup used by Boardman police.
Brooks and Grant Cooper, 23, of Sulgrave Drive in Brookfield, each face charges of aggravated robbery and aggravated murder in the Sept. 20, 2010, death of 67-year-old Real Estate agent Vivian Martin.
Brooks, along with his brother Paul Brooks, also faces two counts of robbing Real Estate agents.
Martin, the owner of Essence Realty company, was found dead in a burning home at 3660 Nelson Ave. Reports state that her body was burned beyond recognition.
The county coroner found Martin was strangled. Police say the fire was set, using an accelerant, to cover up the crime.
The Brooks brothers are accused of robbing real estate agent Cynthia L. Curaso-Westen, a real estate agent for ERA Tri-Sun Real Estate agency in Youngstown, at gunpoint when she showed them an apartment building for sale at 4020 Hillman Way, Boardman, days before Martin was killed.
Attorneys for Robert Brooks said their client was not read their rights by any of the police agencies and the photo lineup used by Boardman police was tainted because their client has unique characteristics and his photo was displayed to show those to the agent who was robbed.
Evans said he read transcripts of all the interviews as well as watched them on videotape and found that Brookfield detectives did not read Brooks his rights and was asked leading questions by them.
Brooks and Cooper were being questioned by Brookfield about another case in Brookfield, and when they learned the two were suspects in Martin's death, they notified Youngstown and Boardman police. Evans suppressed statements they made about the case before the Youngstown and Boardman detectives showed up to question them.
However, Evans ruled that Boardman and Youngstown police did read Brooks his rights and that Boardman police followed proper procedures when showing their witness the photo lineup.
A trial date for Brooks has not been set yet. Cooper was set to go on trial Sept. 24, but the case was postponed.