Felon sentenced to 35 years for shooting death

James Jerome Brooks (Photo provided by the Virginia Beach Police Department)
James Jerome Brooks (Photo provided by the Virginia Beach Police Department)

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — A Virginia Beach man was formally sentenced Wednesday for shooting Laurie Escobar to death inside a home in 2012.

Circuit Court Judge A. Bonwill Shockley imposed a jury-recommended sentence of 35 years in prison for James Jerome Brooks, 34, according to Macie Pridgen with the Office of the Commonwealth’s Attorney. Brooks was found guilty of second degree murder and use of a firearm after a three-day trial in February.

Pridgen said the Commonwealth’s evidence showed Brooks was a drug dealer and had been looking for Laurie, believing she was an informant in a recent drug-related arrest.

Around 1 a.m. on August 21, 2012, Escobar was at a friend’s house on 16th Street with a group of people, and someone there text Brooks, letting him know where Escobar was. Minutes later, Brooks walked into the house with a mask on, searched until he found Escobar in a bathroom and shot her at least four times, Pridgen said.

Afterwards, Pridgen said Brooks fled to a friends’ house in Kempsville.

“The next morning, Brooks saw the crime on the news and made a comment to his friend to the effect of, ‘She got what she deserved. She was snitching,'” Pridgen said.

During Brooks’ trial, Pridgen said the Commonwealth introduced evidence of Brooks’ cell phone records from the night of the shooting, which linked him to the crime scene during the time of the murder and to his friend’s house immediately afterwards.

Brooks is currently serving seven years in prison for charges unrelated to the murder: unlawful wounding, abduction and use of a firearm.

He also has prior convictions for charges of possession of a firearm by felon, possess firearm while possessing cocaine, distribute schedule I/II substance, possession with intent to distribute cocaine, and possession of cocaine.

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