Brooke Bennett – A Major Victory!
In an amazingly fast decision, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled on the appeals in the Brooke Bennett case. The three-judge panel said prosecutors may use evidence Jacques tried to shift blame for the kidnapping and slaying of Bennett from himself to a make-believe international sex ring Jacques called “Breckenridge.”
Last year, U.S. District Judge William Sessions III ruled prosecutors had violated Michael Jacques rights when he contacted a friend, Michael Garcia, and begged him to help him clear his name. Garcia notified the government and met with Jacques while Jacques was in custody in 2008. There was no attorney present during the jailhouse discussion.
The evidence contains emails and letters authored by Jacques, posing as a member of “Breckenridge,” that describe macabre details about Bennett’s murder and a threat to have a another young girl killed if her sister did not cooperate with the sex ring’s orders.
In another blow to the defense, the appellate court partially overturned Judge Sessions ruling forbidding prosecutors from telling a jury about prior multiple sexual acts Jacques, as a teenager,committed with an underage relative referred to in court papers only as “J4.”
Jacques was never convicted of lewd and lascivious behavior with J4, but received a deferred sentence. He was never convicted of aberrant behavior involving two other girls.
The appellate court did however, rule Sessions has the authority to exclude or allow the J4 evidence if he sees fit.
Legal experts and law professors across the region opined that allowing the two damning pieces of evidence to be heard during the penalty phase of the trial is a huge blow to defense attorneys, David Ruhnke and Jean Barrett.
Cheryl Hanna, a Vermont Law School professor said of the rulings, “It suggests a person of innate evilness.”
Will these rulings speed up justice for young Brooke? I have sincere doubts – Sessions already deferred to Ruhnke’s schedule. I’m guessing the trial won’t begin this year, but that doesn’t preclude a happy dance for Brooke!