The duty of the prosecutor is to seek justice, not merely to convict.
During the course of Jesse Brooks’ trial prosecutors used deceptive practices to alter the testimony of witnesses to support their argument to convict Jesse. Take for instance prosecutor Michael Lewis who was improperly using Andrew Carter’s Grand Jury testimony under the pretense that he was refreshing his memory. Instead, by taking the Grand Jury testimony out of context and slightly changing the text of what he read, he was able to convey an entirely different meaning to the jury in order to influence them.
Read the transcript and listen to the audio to hear for yourself.
State’s witness Andrew Carter testified that Jesse called him September 30, 2003 from California on the day he learned the Penske moving truck was stolen from the parking lot of the Londonderry warehouse. Carter stated to the Grand Jury 04/25/07 that Jesse said:
“My father needs a hand. Something’s going on down at the warehouse.
Could you go down there?”
Prosecutor Michael Lewis was supposed to read verbatim from Carter’s Grand Jury transcript but changed the narrative to: “something going down at the warehouse” to elicit a reaction in the courtroom and especially with the media. He then restated it a second time: “So he said something was going down at the warehouse?” It was a very deliberate attempt to alter the trial record and he confirmed his intent when he repeated the misleading statement with emphasis on “going down” which is slang for “launching an attack.”
This statement was introduced on the first day of Jesse’s trial and was by no means another “harmless error” by the prosecutors. The September 30, 2003 phone call Michael Lewis is referring to is what the State wants the jury to believe was the purported event that began the alleged conspiracy.
Andrew Carter repeatedly testified that Jesse simply called him asking if he could give his father a hand which Carter had done regularly. In fact, Carter was contracted to plow the parking lot at the warehouse. Carter also stated that Jesse never mentioned a theft and simply asked him to give his father a hand. Carter explained he was building a stone wall with Michael Benton the day he received the phone call from Jesse and that he listened to Jesse’s voicemail and then called him back adding that he hadn’t spoken to Jesse in quite a while.
In keeping with all other conflicting accounts by Michael Benton, he initially testified during one of his many UNRECORDED meetings with police and prosecutors that Jay made the call to Carter but when the focus of the investigation moved to Jesse - Benton changed his testimony to Jesse made the call to Carter. During his 2008 deposition he testified Carter did not tell him it was Jesse who called, but then changed his story a few hours later to Carter did tell him it was Jesse.
Furthermore, Benton described in detail the phone ringing and Carter answering it despite the fact that Carter claimed he listened to a voicemail and phone records at trial confirmed that, which means the phone never rang. Benton also testified in 2008 that Carter didn’t mention there was a theft, then changed his testimony at trial to - Carter said there was a theft but ultimately admitted he didn’t remember the conversation at all.
Then, astoundingly, during closing arguments, prosecutor Janice Rundles stated:
“He [Benton] is the first to admit that his drug and alcohol use have affected his memory. But I would suggest to you that his memory is actually quite a bit better than even he believes it to be.”
Despite a litany of inconsistent statements she praised his memory of the September 30, 2003 phone call to the jury because he said the 11-minute call lasted 10 -15 minutes after testifying it lasted 20 minutes in the previous trial.
Prosecutor Janice Rundles used the same misleading antics to influence the jury and tried to get Joseph Vrooman to agree on record that Mike Benton’s “crazy” behavior was just part of a cover story despite the fact that Vrooman never suggested that in over a dozen plus interviews and repeatedly testified that Benton was crazy. (Click here) Janice Rundles downplayed Benton’s irrational behavior so she could use him as a witness while she worked ferociously to give the impression that testimony was corroborated.
Janice Rundles also carried on her deceitful antics into Jesse’s March 26, 2010 Sentencing Hearing. There she knowingly presented false evidence and blatantly lied to the judge that Jesse stated to Mike Benton in a June 2005 phone call:
“at Bates 22883... they discussed why Jesse Brooks was not coming back to
New Hampshire to help his father take care of the Jack Reid problem.
Nowhere in the Bates 22883 document does it state Jesse said anything about helping his father take care of the Jack Reid problem. After Benton was arrested in 2006 he testified that June 2005 was the height of his drug and alcohol addiction. He said that Jesse was not in New Hampshire when he called and said his father wanted to talk to him. Then during his deposition in 2008 he said that Jesse said, “give your dad my phone number, have him call me” but changed his story again at Jesse’s trial in 2009 to, “No, he didn’t ask me to call his father.”
These calculated and deliberate acts can in no way be explained away as “harmless errors.” The State was intent on a conviction and went to great lengths to manipulate witnesses and testimony but intentionally failed to investigate or subpoena records of anything relating to Jesse Brooks because it would have proved he played no role. Instead he was convicted based on the testimony of incentivized witnesses who were facing the death penalty or life without parole. In fact, Joseph Vrooman testified that he thought by implicating Jesse it gave him leverage with the State.
The duty of the prosecutor is to seek justice. And it is especially not to seek a conviction by unjust means, as has been done in the case of Jesse Brooks.