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Witnesses & their "deals"

Michael Benton Testifying Newspaper clip.png

The principal witnesses who testified against Jesse Brooks had the most reasons to lie. Incredibly, the New Hampshire state prosecutors negotiated the best deals to the two people who actually killed Jack Reid.

Both Michael Benton and Joseph Vrooman pleaded guilty and agreed to testify against Jesse Brooks. 


Both received leniency from prosecutors. Both were present and personally involved with killing Jack Reid.


Jesse Brooks, on the other hand, was not there, had no role in any conspiracy and is innocent of what he was convicted of. 

Listen to audio

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Michael Benton

When Michael Benton was arrested in connection with the murder of Jack Reid, he could have faced the death penalty or life without the possibility of parole. He was charged with second degree murder, conspiracy to commit murder and with being a felon carrying or selling weapons. 

In exchange for his testimony and a guilty plea, the weapon charge was dropped and he received a 33 year to life sentence for the second degree murder charge. But with a state recommendation for early release, he said in a jail house call he may serve as little as 22 years. 

He killed Jack Reid.

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Benton's Jail House Call


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Witness Deal:

Michael Benton was at the scene of the murder and, following his arrest, was facing the DEATH PENALTY. 

Shortly before the murder, he was the only one talking about killing Jack Reid. (Just moments before according to police report 22967 of Joseph Vrooman)

He admitted that in June 2005, he was at the height of his IV cocaine and alcohol addiction.

He also admitted he was irrational and “jonesing” for a fix on the day of the murder.

He is the one who admitted killing Jack Reid with a sledge hammer, striking the first blows to Reid’s head and striking him again after he learned that Reid was not yet dead.

Claiming that one of the reasons for committing the murder was for financial gain, his false, and often contradictory testimony against Jesse Brooks, ensured he would escape the death penalty and a life without parole. As a result of his deal with the prosecutor to testify against Jesse Brooks, he expects to be released in 22 years.

Joseph Vrooman

Joseph Vrooman admitted to investigators he married a woman in Nevada whose visa had expired in exchange for $5,000 and rent-free lodging, an act he knew to be criminal. Committing marriage fraud is punishable in Nevada with a 5-10 year jail sentence, probation and up to a $250,000 fine. Conviction under the federal law can impose a 5 year sentence, $250,000 fine or both. 

No charges related to marriage fraud were filed. 


Nor was Vrooman charged with Bankruptcy Fraud after filing a $57,960 claim with his illegal marriage partner. Bankruptcy fraud carries a sentence of up to five years in prison, or a fine of up to $250,000, or both. See 18 U.S.C. § 152


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Vrooman's Jail Call


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​He pled guilty to murder conspiracy, admitting in 2006 that he held down Jack Reid’s legs and hit him a second time while Benton delivered the fatal blows. Others say that he sat on Reid’s chest. In 2008 he added that he may have also been responsible for Jack Reid’s shoulder, back and facial injuries. In 2009 he testified that he sat on Jack Reid’s head. In exchange for his testimony and plea, he got a deal in which he may end up serving less than 12 years.

Vrooman could have faced the death penalty or a life sentence and he fully expected to get the max, according to a phone call he made to Roger Sargent, which he didn’t realize was being recorded.


“I mean you say the truth will set you free. So you could probably put me in jail until I’m fucking eighty...I mean you know the thing is a good lawyer’s gonna tell me to keep my mouth shut. And then what. I’m gonna get the max?” he said.

Witness Deal:

Joseph Vrooman was at the scene of the murder and, following his arrest, was facing DEATH PENALTY. 

He is heard in jailhouse tapes expressing his willingness to say whatever was necessary to negotiate a better sentence.

Witnesses described him as administering the final, fatal injuries yet he didn’t have to plead guilty to murder for his role in killing Jack Reid.

As a result of his deal with the prosecutor to testify against Jesse Brooks, he may serve as little as 11.8 years.

Janice Rundles told Judge Robert Lynn during Joseph Vrooman’s sentencing that he was basically a career Navy person with no criminal record whatsoever. He cautioned her that it was a very lenient sentence for a death penalty case and asked her to think about it but she accepted it without hesitation. Janice Rundles had moved to the Michigan Genesee County Prosecutor's Office but she is back again at the NH Attorney General's Office. 

The law recognizes the simple reality that any witness—prosecution or defense—whose testimony was secured with something of value has been bribed and thus untrustworthy.  

WITNESS                   OVERT ACT                 THREAT                                   DEAL                           


Michael Benton        Capital Murder           Death Penalty or Life             33 years - he was told 22 years with Sentence Reduction.

Joseph Vrooman      Capital Murder           Death Penalty or Life             17-1/2 - he was told 11.8 years with Sentence Reduction.


Andrew Carter          Capital Murder           Death Penalty or Life             No Charges

                                                                        Drug Trafficking                     No Charges

Dennis                       Felony Theft                7-1/2 - 15 years                      No Charges  

Chamberlain                                                  $4,000 Fine.

Michael Connors     Hindering                     3-1/2 - 7 years                         No Charges

Mike Small                                                     Unknown                                 Unknown    Jesse’s attorney’s failed to investigate Mike Small’s

                                                                                                                                            UNRECORDED meeting with police and prosecutor                                                                                                                                                            Janice Rundles before Jesse's trial where he 

                                                                                                                                            changed his testimony to implicate Jesse.                                 

                                                                                                                                            They also failed to inform the jury of Small's lengthy

                                                                                                                                            criminal history in Strafford County where Janice

                                                                                                                                            Rundles had been the County Attorney for eight

                                                                                                                                            years and failed to disclose a letter by Rundles

                                                                                                                                            documenting a false arrest of Small prior to his

                                                                                                                                            interview in the Reid case. Rundles noted that Small

                                                                                                                                            was beaten during the false arrest in Strafford County.


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