State of Missouri v. Thomas Brooks

960 S.W. 2d 479 (Mo.banc 1997)

Thomas Brooks, 33, died on May 16, 200_ at the Moberly Prison, from an undisclosed illness.

Case Facts: On December 1, 1993, Cassidy Senter, a ten year old girl, returned home from school. She and her mother, Rhonda Senter, lived in the lower half of Michael Goldbeck’s home on Tall Tree Court in Hazelwood, St. Louis County. When Cassidy arrived at home, she visited briefly with Mr. Goldbeck. Mr. Goldbeck tested Cassidy’s personal alarm to make sure it was functioning properly before Cassidy left the house. Cassidy then headed up Tall Tree Court to a friend’s house at about 3:30 p.m. She was last seen at an intersection where Tall Tree Court became Spring Forest Lane. Also at around 3:30 p.m., Mr and Mrs. Hanneke, who resided on Spring Tree Forest Lane next door to Cassandra Quinn, Brooks sister, heard a noise and followed the sound to identify it. The Hannekes found a yellow alarm and a pen near their property line. The alarm was buzzing.

A few minutes after 5:00 p.m., Rhonda Senter returned from work. When she telephoned Cassidy’s friend’s house, she learned that Cassidy had never arrived. After Ms. Senter and Mr. Goldbeck searched in vain for Cassidy, Mr Goldbeck telephoned the police. Around the same time, Mr. Goldbeck received word that Cassidy’s personal alarm was found on the Hannekes’ lawn. When Mr. Goldbeck told this to the police, the police instituted a ground and air search almost immediately. The search continued for days.

On December 7, 1993, a detective began to re-interview people who lived in the neighborhood where the alarm was found. At this time, the detective spoke to Brooks’ sister and learned where Brooks could be found. On December 9, 1993, two persons walking in the city of St. Louis discovered Cassidy Senter’s body in an alley. The child was wrapped in two bed comforters and a pink curtain. Her jacket and sweater were pulled above her chest. Her jeans were pulled down over her ankles, inside out. A sheet was looped around each of her ankles and then tied in the middle to hold the ankles together.

The autopsy revealed decomposition on the upper portion of her body. There were at least four tears to the scalp and multiple fractures in the skull. There were bruises on Cassidy’s chin, right check, right shoulder, breast bone, abdomen each side of her chest wall, and on the upper back at the base of the neck. Numerous other bruises were found over her body.

The condition of Cassidy Senter’s scalp indicated that she was alive when she received many of her injuries. The physician who performed the autopsy opined that there were at least five blows to the head and that the blows were significant enough to have caused her death. The physician concluded that Cassidy died from the head injuries. It appeared that Cassidy lived less that an hour after the blows were sustained. Examination of the tire tracks revealed and concluded to a U-haul truck. On December 9, a neighbor of Cassandra Quinn, Brooks’ sister, saw a U-Haul truck backing out of the driveway at Cassandra Quinn’s home. The body was discovered that day. A comparison of the tire tracks left where the body was discovered to the tires on the U Haul truck that Brooks rented revealed a positive match.

Brooks was arrested on February 3, 1993. Brooks testified to a detective that he killed her and then covered her body will the bedding and drapery, then left for work.