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Crime Local News

Southwest Virginia man enters no contest plea in stepfather's murder

April 28th, 2014 9:57 pm by Wes Bunch

Southwest Virginia  man enters no contest plea in stepfather's murder

Richard A. Brooks

JONESVILLE — A Southwest Virginia man could face up to 40 years in prison after he pleaded no contest in Lee County Circuit Court Friday to murdering his stepfather last year with a shotgun.

Richard A. Brooks, 46, of Rose Hill, entered the plea to a charge of second-degree murder following discussions between his defense attorney and the Lee County Commonwealth's Attorney's Office.

Brooks had been scheduled to stand trial beginning Monday for first-degree murder in connection with the June 30, 2013, shooting.

Under the terms of the no contest plea, Brooks did not admit guilt, but did acknowledge to the court that prosecutors had sufficient evidence to convict him of the charge.

During Friday's hearing, Brooks told the court that he entered the plea despite not having an agreement in place with prosecutors and understood that he could face anywhere from five to 40 years in prison.

Lee County Commonwealth's Attorney Shawn Hines said the murder case fell into place quickly following the shooting of Brooks' stepfather, Danny Catron, of Rose Hill.

Hines also credited the work of Lee County Sheriff's Office investigator Bobby Ellis on the case as playing a role in Brooks' decision to avoid a jury trial.

Lee County deputies discovered Catron with a gunshot wound after receiving a report of a possible shooting at his Rose Hill apartment.

Hours after the shooting, Brooks arrived at the scene and turned himself in to authorities, reportedly telling them, "I am the one you're looking for. I did it."

After being taken into custody, Brooks reportedly told authorities that he had visited Catron to sell him the shotgun. Brooks said Catron slapped him upon opening the door, causing the gun to go off.

Another individual interviewed by police — Gina Hoskins — told investigators that Brooks had borrowed the gun from her and that she didn't give him permission to sell it.

Hoskins also told investigators that Brooks said he shot his former stepfather because he had a dream the night before the shooting that Catron had beaten Brooks' mother and broke her jaw. Brooks said that after he woke up he went to Catron's apartment and shot him.

Prosecutors said Catron had not been involved with Brooks' mother since the defendant was a child.

Hines said forensic testing also debunked Brooks' story that the shotgun had fired accidentally. The state medical examiner also reportedly concluded that Catron had been shot in the chest from at least two feet away.

The medical examiner added that Catron did not die immediately from the shooting, which fractured several ribs and caused fatal injuries to his left lung, spleen, stomach, colon and pancreas. The medical examiner removed fifteen shot pellets from Catron's body, Hines said.

Hines also said that a psychiatric examination requested by Brooks' defense attorney in January found the defendant was both competent to stand trial and sane at the time of the offense.

Brooks is scheduled to be sentenced June 19, 2014, at 9 a.m. in Lee County Circuit Court.

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