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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Brooks may stick with lawyer in his retrial

Prosecutors to push ahead with charges of shooting at cars

A day after seeing their case against Lamont Brooks end in a mistrial, Spokane County prosecutors say they plan to retry him within a month.

Brooks, 19, faces seven counts of attempted murder for allegedly firing at least 20 bullets last December into three cars in the drive-through lane of a downtown Jack in the Box.

On Tuesday, after just three hours of testimony, Superior Court Judge Robert Austin ended the trial, saying Brooks’ attorney was incapable of presenting an adequate defense.

That decision - coupled with Brooks’ refusal to accept a court-appointed public defender - left attorneys wondering who will defend Brooks when he stands trial again.

State law requires that a second trial be scheduled within 30 days of a mistrial.

But attorneys on both sides say they’re perplexed and can’t find guidelines covering the options open to Brooks and his lawyer, Brad Plumb.

Austin told Brooks his next attorney would come from the public defender’s office, but the defendant stood up in court and announced he wanted to stick with Plumb.

The judge then backed off slightly, telling Plumb that since he is a private attorney, Brooks is free to keep him.

“I don’t know of precedents for this type of thing,” said Richard Fasy, the county’s chief assistant public defender. “I’ve practiced for 22 years and I’ve never seen anything like this.”

On Wednesday, Plumb said Austin’s comments on his competence “undermined” the defense.

“He doesn’t know what strategies I and my client have prepared,” he said.

In declaring the mistrial, Austin cited Plumb’s failure to notice a key difference in dates before making his opening statement Tuesday. Plumb told jurors Brooks couldn’t have been the shooter because he was babysitting his niece at his sister’s house.

After a lunch recess, Plumb told Austin he had made an error in his opening statement. Brooks had been babysitting the night after the shooting, Plumb explained.

Because of that error and because of alleged jury misconduct, Plumb moved for a mistrial.

Austin granted the request - and lambasted the lawyer for his lack of knowledge of criminal law.

Plumb said he intends to keep representing Brooks at no cost because Spokane law enforcement is targeting his client, looking for any reason to lock him up.

“The basic reason is I know he’s innocent. He simply didn’t do this crime,” Plumb said.

While Brooks has twice been convicted of felonies in Spokane County, Plumb said he’s not the dangerous gang member authorities claim he is.

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