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Murder charge upheld

Kara Fox

A Truckee man will stand trial for murder in connection with an alleged road-rage incident in Tahoe City last summer.

Placer County Superior Court Judge Richard Couzens ruled there is sufficient evidence to charge Timothy Brooks with murder in the stabbing death of Robert Ash, a 47-year-old Newcastle developer. Ash was killed outside Syd’s Bagelry Aug. 17. Brooks, 25, is scheduled to stand trial Feb. 27 in Auburn.

Couzens stated in a seven-page opinion filed with the court Friday that there was “sufficient evidence in the record to justify” the charge of murder. However, Couzens denied the district attorney’s request to charge Brooks with possessing a dagger, based on insufficient evidence.

Deputy District Attorney Chris Cattran said he will request an increase in the bail amount set by another judge.

Brooks, a Truckee resident at the time of the stabbing, is free on a $250,000 bail bond. His attorney, Marcus Topel, said at an earlier hearing that Brooks would live with his parents in the Bay Area if allowed to post bail.

At an October hearing in Tahoe City, a county judge lowered the charge to voluntary manslaughter. Cattran refiled the murder charge, but Couzens said in December that he needed time to read the transcript from the previous hearing.

The defense and prosecution disagree over who started the fight following an incident between Ash and Brooks on Highway 89 near Squaw Valley. Ash, who was driving a recently purchased Aston Martin sports car, allegedly passed Brooks and cut him off.

According to Topel, Brooks and his wife, who were in a Toyota 4-Runner, drove into Squaw Valley searching for Ash to learn his name. They continued to drive to Tahoe City, where Susanne Brooks spotted Ash’s car about 30 minutes after the original incident.

Susanne Brooks ran over to Ash, who was eating a bagel and drinking coffee outside the bagel shop. Topel has argued that Timothy Brooks followed, he and Ash got into an argument, Ash started a fistfight and Brooks pulled out his knife in self defense.

Placer County Sheriff’s deputies testified that an off-duty Tuolumne County sheriff’s deputy stopped Brooks as he was trying to leave and that Brooks admitted that he had stabbed Ash.

“In his brief statement to the police, the defendant indicated simply that he and the victim had been arguing, the victim hit him in the face, he became dazed, he pulled out a knife and stabbed the victim,” Couzens stated in his opinion. “The defendant claimed no fear for his safety necessitating the use of deadly force. Viewed in this manner, the evidence suggests the defendant was the aggressor throughout the entire incident, culminating in the unwarranted stabbing of the victim.”

Topel has described Brooks as a University of California, Berkeley, graduate who was planning to attend graduate school in Monterey and had recently married his German wife.


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