After 15 years of lost motions, appeals, habeas requests, and sentence reduction hearings, Jesse Brooks finally succeeded in being granted parole and was at last released on Saint Patrick’s Day, 2023.
On January 5, 2023, a parole hearing had been held for Jesse Brooks in New Hampshire after having served 15 years of a 15-30 year sentence. Jesse was patched in by telephone from Arizona where he was incarcerated for the past 13 years; he had been unexpectedly transferred there in 2010 along with a falsified prison record claiming he was serving a Capital Murder sentence. His hearing was held before a panel of three parole board members and began with parole board member Joseph Francis introducing Jesse as a Second-Degree murder convict. Jesse respectfully responded that his conviction was “Conspiracy to Commit Murder,” not Second-Degree murder. So, despite years of Jesse trying to correct his false record, the State of New Hampshire still had it wrong.
During the hearing, Mr. Francis repeatedly asked Jesse to state his involvement and Jesse explained that some of the overt acts that were the basis for his conviction were not physically possible for him to have committed. He also explained that the New Hampshire Supreme Court ruled that he didn’t have to commit any of the alleged acts to find him guilty.
Jesse apologized to the Reid family for all that they had been through. However, he also explained to the parole board that he doesn’t know how he could have changed the outcome as he wasn’t in New Hampshire when Jack Reid’s murder took place.
It should be noted that Michael Benton admitted he and Joseph Vrooman were the two men who physically killed Jack Reid. He testified there was no plan when he, Jay Brooks, Robin Knight and Vrooman traveled to Deerfield on June 27, 2005. According to both Knight and Vrooman’s arrest reports, there was no intention to kill Reid but when Reid arrived, Benton picked up a hammer he found on a workbench and struck Reid’s head 3 times. Knight and Vrooman were stunned, describing Benton as “ranting” “f**king crazy” and “psycho”. Benton then threatened Knight that if he tried calling the police he’d kill him too.
In 2006, Benton confessed to police that in June 2005 he was at the height of his IV crack cocaine drug/alcohol addiction, “jonesing for a fix,” and irrational at the time. The State never ordered a competency evaluation for Benton despite bludgeoning a man to death and admitting to serious mental health issues or the fact that he was under court ordered anger management counseling.
In 2007 during a recorded jail call his mother stated that he should take Jesse down with him because it had to be Jesse that got him involved. Benton responded, “No, it wasn’t.” (See BENTON JAIL CALLS for audio recording) Vrooman testified that he initially told police that Jesse had nothing to do with it but changed his story when he realized he could use Jesse as “leverage” to a lighter sentence.
At no time was any physical evidence presented against Jesse tying him to the murder, nor was there any confession. The only evidence against him was either that of the actual killers who sought to avoid the death penalty or life without parole in exchange for their testimony or of the witnesses who were threatened with prosecution if they did not cooperate and testify against him.
All of the State’s witnesses gave testimony that conflicted with each other and conflicted with their own prior statements. Most importantly, the state withheld irrefutable alibi evidence proving Jesse’s innocence.
On March 17, 2023, Jesse was released from Arizona State Prison having suffered years of medical neglect, abuse and malpractice. U.S. District Judge Roslynn Silver ruled Arizona State Prison’s medical care for the past decade as “unconstitutional” and “gruesome.” Jesse has spent every day since his release in medical appointments and trying to get his life back in order.
He survived his wrongful conviction by remaining hopeful for better days and as hard as they tried to break his spirit, medically and mentally - he is the same nonjudgmental person he ever was and treats everyone with kindness and respect. He is not bitter and wants nothing more than to help others.
We look forward to Jesse reclaiming his health and his good-natured optimism is welcomed by all. Our prayers have been answered!