Commonwealth v. James Jerome Brooks; Judge Imposes 35-Year Sentence for Murder by Multi-time Convicted Drug Dealer

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Colin D. Stolle, Commonwealth’s Attorney for the city of Virginia Beach, announced that James Jerome Brooks, 34 years old, formerly of the 700 block of 16th Street in Virginia Beach, Virginia, was formally sentenced today by Circuit Court Judge A. Bonwill Shockley for charges of Second Degree Murder and Use of a Firearm. Brooks was found guilty of these charges by a jury after a three-day trial in February, and the jury fixed his punishment at 35 years in prison. Today, Judge Shockley imposed that sentence.


The Commonwealth’s evidence proved that at about 1:00 a.m. on August 21, 2012, the victim, Laurie Escobar, was at a friend’s house on 16th Street in Virginia Beach with a group of people.  The defendant, James Jerome Brooks, was a drug dealer and had been looking for Laurie.  There had been a drug-related arrest at the home recently and Brooks believed Laurie to be a “snitch” or informant.  Unbeknownst to Laurie, one of the people in the home on August 21 sent a text message to Brooks, whose nickname is “True,” letting Brooks know that Laurie was there.


Minutes later, Brooks walked into the house, masked and armed.  He went through the house until he found Laurie in the bathroom. He then shot her at least four times, ultimately killing her.  Immediately after the shooting, one of the men in the home yelled, “True shot Laurie!”  A woman in the home called 911, and police began investigating the murder.  The woman identified Brooks as the shooter.


Brooks fled to a friend’s house in Kempsville after the murder.  The next morning, Brooks saw the crime on the news and made a comment to his friend to the effect of, “She got what she deserved. She was snitching.”  The Commonwealth also introduced evidence of Brooks’ cell phone records that night, which linked him to the crime scene during the time of the murder and to his friend’s house in Kempsville immediately after the murder. 



Brooks is currently serving seven (7) years in prison for charges of Unlawful Wounding, Abduction, and Use of a Firearm, stemming from an incident about a month before the murder. He also has prior convictions for charges of Possession of a Firearm by Felon, Possess Firearm while Possessing Cocaine, Distribute Schedule I/II Substance, Possession with Intent to Distribute Cocaine, and Possession of Cocaine.


The case was prosecuted by Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney David W. Laird and Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Tanja M. Korpi.  Please contact Macie Pridgen if additional information is desired.