Brooke’s Trial Continues, Defense Calls Character Witnesses

John Brooke

The trial of John Brooke continued Wednesday morning in Starke Circuit Court. The Prosecution called its first witness of the day to the stand: Starke County Detective Ron Lawson. Lawson testified that he had been called to a shooting incident on Summerholme Drive at Bass Lake and received a briefing from officers on the scene. He also said that he had interviewed John Brooke on three separate interviews to correct or understand discrepancies between interviews with Brooke, Michael Drogosz, and Kimberly Hitchens, who were also involved in the incident.

Lawson testified that Brooke was given a waiver of rights form which was signed and Brooke’s attorney was contacted and Lawson was given permission to interview John Brooke. Lawson testified he had also contacted the ATF, FBI and Homeland Security due to the nature of the weaponry and explosives found at the scene and the possible existence of a local militia being involved.

The Detective testified that he had searched a vehicle Brooke was driving and a .308 caliber long-range rifle was recovered with a scope.

The state then moved to rest, and the defense began calling its witnesses to the stand.  Six character witnesses were called, including Brooke’s mother, Deborah Brooke. She gave a brief history of Brooke’s passion for law enforcement and the Marine Corps during his youth, and explained she was a single parent responsible for raising Brooke and stated that her father, Harold Brooke, did his best to fill the void of a father figure in Brooke’s life.

Brooke’s grandmother, Loretta Brooke, also testified for the defense. She explained how she and her husband provided support for Brooke, even going so far as to quit her job to help care for him while his mother would work.  She stated that Brooke had always had a fascination with firearms, and had been collecting them since he received his first gun at around the age of 10.

Harold Brooke was then called to the stand, and testified that he did his best to play the paternal role in Brooke’s youth. He explained that he taught Brooke how to use guns and taught him safe gun practices, and described Brooke as a “caring person, sympathetic to people in need.”

The defense proceeded to call Lawrence Fuka, the grandfather of Hitchens, to the stand. Fuka testified as to the character of Brooke, stating that he seemed to be a stable individual, and held a full-time job, keeping Hitchens, his girlfriend of over a year, happy. He also stated that he believed Brooke and Hitchens planned to someday marry and have a family.

Scott Golinski was then called to the stand. Golisnki stated that he stayed at a home across the street from Brooke every weekend, and stated that they had met as neighbors about a year before the incident occurred. He mentioned that he knew Brooke had collected guns, but also said that he never felt threatened by this fact.

Hitchens’ grandmother, Patricia Fuka, took the stand as well, and gave an eyewitness account of the incident.

The trial continues, and is expected to go to the jury by Thursday.