Life in prison for man who murdered Youngstown real estate agent
It's been four years since the murder of Youngstown real estate agent Vivian Martin.
On Wednesday, the first of two defendants in the case faced sentencing. To avoid a trial and possible death penalty, Robert Brooks, 29, pleaded guilty to all charges against him.
Prosecutors said in September of 2010, Brooks and Grant Cooper arranged to meet Vivian Martin, 67, at a home she had for sale. Then they robbed her, strangled her and set fire to the house to cover up the crime.
At the sentencing, the defense called eight people, including family members to testify about Brooks' troubled and abusive childhood. An Army veteran, Brooks was injured in Iraq and later diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. A neuro psychologist who examined Brooks said he should have received intensive treatment.
"This is a very sick, seriously disturbed man and I wonder if his treatment was adequate," said Dr. Paul Swales to the court.
Several of Martin's family members, including two daughters, gave victim witness statements prior to sentencing. Brooks had asked to address the court, but at the last minute discarded his written statement.
"Let's get this show on the road and just do whatever you feel necessary," said Brooks from his seat at the defense table. He added, "I'm not going to sit here and whine and complain because I could not stop Grant Cooper from killing Ms. Vivian Martin, that's what I'm going to live with."
The defense pleaded with the court for a sentence of less than life without parole, so Brooks could receive treatment and possibly be "repaired."
After a short recess for a final review of the case, Judge Lee Sinclair announced that he was sentencing Brooks to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.
Brooks family members reacted with tears, while Brooks had no response. The family of Martin said it's been a long time coming.
"It's been four years of hell for everybody, we can finally put some closure, but can we bring her back, no," said Martin's youngest daughter Donna James.
A cousin of Martin, Tonya Reed said, "Justice prevailed today and we just thank God that the sentence went the way that we wanted it to go."
The second defendant, Grant Cooper also has pleaded guilty and is scheduled to be sentenced on Thursday.