November 6, 2009 in News

Motorcyclist sent to prison for killing sister in crash

By The Spokesman-Review

More than six months after losing her daughter in a motorcycle crash, a Spokane mother sobbed as she pleaded with a judge Friday to keep the driver - her son - out of prison.

“I’m just lost without my kids. Not only have I lost one, but I’ve lost two,” said Janice Tensley.

Tensley then turned to Deputy Spokane County Prosecutor Mark Cipolla.

“I think you have a personal vendetta against my child…I don’t know why you hate him. I don’t know why you dislike him,” she said before Judge Maryann Moreno stopped her.

Cipolla didn’t respond.

Minutes later, Tensley’s son, Lamont A. Brooks, 30, was sentenced to 3 years and 5 months in prison for the April 17 crash at 5th Avenue and Lee Street that killed Phyllis K. “P.K” Darrough, 33. Moreno called a brief recess after hearing emotional testimony from Brooks’ family, who filled courtroom pews, some openly sobbing, to meet with Cipolla and defense attorney David Miller.

The judge wanted “to see if it wasn’t just an accident,” she said, but “it was explained to me that you did drive in a reckless manner.”

Witnesses said Brooks was riding 50 to 70 mph in a 25 mph zone when he crashed into a car in an intersection, ejecting Brooks and Darrough, who were wearing helmets. Darrough, who has a son named for Brooks, died the next day.

Brooks had just gotten his motorcycle permit that day. He’d never ridden with a passenger before and wasn’t prepared for the acceleration speed of his GSXR 600, Miller said. Brooks didn’t want to give anyone a ride that day but relented only because of the insistence of his sister, he said in court.

“I just want to tell my family that I love them all and I’m sorry,” Brooks said as his family members yelled encouragement. “I never meant to hurt my sister.”

Brooks has had brushes with the law before.

A decade ago, he was charged with seven counts of first-degree attempted murder for a late-night shooting spree in downtown Spokane in 1998, but the charges were dismissed because of problem with evidence.

In 2000, he was charged with attempted first-degree murder, first-degree arson and 10 counts of first-degree assault but pleaded guilty to one county of conspiracy to commit second-degree assault and served about 10 months in jail.

Cipolla was the prosecutor in both cases.

Brooks then served about five years in federal prison on a cocaine charge. He’d gotten his life together after his release, his mother said.

“What Lamont did in the past, that was in the past,” Tensley said.

Moreno said she didn’t hold Brooks’ past against him before approving the plea deal, which dismissed a drug charge for a large amount of cocaine Brooks had on him during the crash. Toxicology reports showed he wasn’t under the influence of any substances.

“There’s not much I can do,” Moreno said. “This is just such a tragedy.”

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