November 7, 2009 in City

Mom lost daughter, pleads for son

He gets 41-month term for crash fatal to sister
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 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 three years and five months in prison for vehicular homicide in connection with the April 17 crash at Fifth Avenue and Lee Street that killed Phyllis K. “P.K.” Darrough, 33. Moreno had 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 himself and Darrough, who were wearing helmets. Darrough, who had a son named for Brooks, died the next day.

Brooks had just gotten his motorcycle permit the day of the crash. 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 after his sister insisted, 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.

He was charged with seven counts of first-degree attempted murder in a late-night shooting spree in downtown Spokane in 1998, but the charges were dismissed because of problems 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 count 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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