By Jarret Bencks
BRENTWOOD — The final conspirator to stand trial in the murder of Jack Reid, a 57-year-old mover from Derry, has been convicted by a jury.
Jesse Brooks, 32, formerly of New Castle and Las Vegas, was found guilty of conspiracy to commit murder yesterday morning. It took the jury more than 10 hours to come to its decision.
Reid was killed on June 27, 2005, when he was lured to a barn in Deerfield with bogus job promises and was bludgeoned to death with a sledgehammer. The killing was orchestrated by Brooks' father, multi-millionaire John "Jay" Brooks, who was convicted of capital murder last fall and is now serving a life sentence. The older Brooks began plotting against Reid in September 2003, when a moving truck filled with family belongings was stolen and he became convinced that Reid had something to do with the theft.
With the help of his son, the elder Brooks hired three men to help kill Reid: Robin Knight, 58, of North Hampton; Joseph Vrooman, 53, of Whitville, Tenn.; and Michael Benton, 32, of Manchester, a childhood friend of Jesse Brooks.SClBReid was greeted at the Deerfield farmhouse by Knight, who lad him down a hallway where Vrooman pushed him into a small room, and Benton struck him in the head with a sledgehammer. John Brooks later delivered the final blows. The men wrapped Reid's body in plastic and left it in the back of his dump truck in a parking lot in Saugus, Mass.SClBKnight was convicted of murder in May. Vrooman and Benton both accepted plea agreements and testified for the prosecution. Neither man has been scheduled for sentencing.
Prosecutors alleged that Jesse Brooks put Benton in touch with his father, made payments to Vrooman for the killing, and was involved in meetings where the murder was discussed.
Jesse Brooks' trial, which lasted more than three weeks, ended on Wednesday afternoon. The jury spent all day Thursday in deliberation and resumed yesterday morning. Members of the Brooks and Reid families waited outside the courtroom until the verdict was reached at about 10:30 a.m. yesterday.
Reid's relatives tried to restrain their emotions as the verdict was read. After the court proceeding, Reid's daughter, Megan, said the final conviction in the killing of her father gives her family some closure.
"I've never felt so much relief," she said.
She added that her father "can definitely rest in peace at this point."
Jaye Klos, also Reid's daughter, said she hoped the extensive prosecution of those involved in the killing would serve as a lesson to others.
"From my point of view, it sends a very clear message to people that they cannot just do something like this and expect to get away with it," she said.
In 2008, the Reid family filed a $50 million civil lawsuit against John Brooks, Jesse Brooks, Lorraine Brooks, Vrooman, Benton, Knight and Michael Connors, who owned the barn in which Reid was killed.
Senior Assistant Attorney General Janice Rundles praised the jury for its decision.
"This has been such a long ordeal for the Reid family," she said. "I am just so grateful to the jury."
Brooks's defense team argued that Vrooman's testimony was refutable because he was motivated to avoid a life sentence, and Benton's drug problems at the time made his testimony questionable. But those arguments were not enough to sway the jury.
"We're disappointed in the decision they made, but we have to live with it," defense attorney William Kettlewell said.
Jesse Brooks shook his head as the jurors left the courtroom yesterday morning. He turned and waved to family members seated behind him, including his mother, Lorraine Brooks before being escorted out.
He is scheduled to be sentenced Feb. 12. He faces 15 to 30 years in state prison.
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