Brooks was a young, ambitious 24 year old, wanting to change the violence and injustices that plagued his city. His potential future as an activist would come to an end. Brooks recalls the day that his life got turned upside down.
Brooks says that he was heading home to change his clothes because he was headed to a training for young ministers at Galilee Baptist Church located on Martin Luther King Blvd. Brooks returned home from church only to leave again with a friend. At the time Brooks was staying with his mother.
“I remember coming back home and my mom told me that the cops came there looking for me,” says Brooks. After his mom informed them of the allegations, Brooks took action and called the police himself. The cops then came back. At this point and time Brooks was interested in the individuals who identified him as this character that “flashed himself”. When the officers arrived at the residence where Brooks was staying, they then proceeded to go to the girl’s home who identified him. “When we arrived the cops knocked on the door and there was no one home except the little girls. Then one cop went into the house and I stayed outside, waiting for them. They all come back to the front door and the officer asked one of the girls who did it? She (One of the girls) pointed me out!”
It is alleged by Brooks that the young girls were at home by themselves, “it was between 9:30 and 10 pm and there were no parents at home, that was kind of weird to me that these little girls were at home by themselves with no parents there” says Brooks.
Brooks acknowledges that he was indeed passing through that area around the hours of 5-6 pm. However, he also says, “that it doesn’t make sense for him to do something like that because there was a mini police station in the area.” He adds that the description of the man given by the police and the witness was not him.
“They said that I had a bottle of brandy in my hand” Brooks admits that he does drink, but says, “he would not have had a bottle of brandy walking down the street in front of a mini police station!” He adds that “around the times of 5 to 6 pm there are a lot of people outside.” According to Brooks there were no other witnesses that came forth to identify him.
Despite one of the girls identifying Brooks the officers did not proceed to lock him up. Brook says, that night he was sent back to his mother’s house. In the interview Brooks says, “The little girls were picked up around one week later, they were taken to the police station and questioned by the officers.” According to Brooks there was no attorney present with them. However, according to Brooks 2 weeks later in an incident dealing with a city council man, “I got in an argument… he threatened me. I was then advised to go down to the police station. He now admits that he was a “fool” to follow directions from the ones who had threatened him.
Brooks remembers that as he arrived he was interviewed by Detective Buddy Law. A couple of minutes later he was photographed and added to a photograph line up. It was there that the girls identified Brooks as the perpetrator. This was all done without an attorney present, says Brooks. “They then took pictures of me and she pointed me out in a photo lineup, my lawyer wasn’t even present” says Brooks. He then was taken into custody and charged with 2 counts of sexual assault, 2 counts of endangerment of a child, and 2 counts of lewdness. He posted bail, about $10,000. Brooks, says the chargers were changed because according to him he believes that, “if I was just getting charged with flashing, it would have just stayed in municipal court, I was charged with those charges because then the trial would have to go to superior court.”
The trial would not take place until 1998, almost 3 and a half years later from the time of the incident. “I didn’t take the charge seriously because I figured they didn’t have a case.” As he looks back in regret, “he admits, “I should’ve taken it more seriously” “I thought that there was no real evidence against me.” After it all was said, Daryl Mikel Brooks was found guilty and not charged with the initial charge of flashing, but with, two counts of sexual assault, two counts of endangerment of a child, and two counts of Lewdness. The Prosecutors were aiming to give Brooks 16 years, his lawyer managed to get him a mandatory 7, Brooks was released from prison in three and a half years.
Brooks is out now and believes that he was set up, that it was Trenton political figures who were out to get him. As stated earlier, Brooks was an activist, “I spoke out against the politicians in this city, and they didn’t like me!” There are at least a couple of individuals who have sided with Brooks.
Rabbi Gellar who runs a synagogue in South New Jersey is a friend of Brooks. He met Daryl directly after he was released from prison. He met Daryl in a public transportation area, “I met Daryl reading a political science text book and it peaked my interest. I am a professor, we then started a conversation.” They have been friends ever since. He describes Daryl as idealistic and creative, he also considers Daryl an “asset” to his community. Gellar, who also has a Law Degree from Catholic University, was shown the case by Daryl.
Gellar states, “That anybody could do anything, you or I or anybody could do anything. It’s not purely a question of could anybody do this, it’s a question of did he do anything like this? In terms of the evidence, the evidence points in the opposite direction.” He also says that he has had a very prominent Lawyer in New Jersey view Daryl’s case; his acquaintance, which shall remain nameless, came to the conclusion that Daryl was the victim of an unjust system.
“There is no doubt in my mind that Daryl got shafted,” says Gellar. Gellar is not the only one who seems to think that. One of the jurors in the trial says the same: “It was too many conflicting stories between the police”. When it came down to deliberation, “some people had their mind made up before they came into the courtroom (that Daryl was guilty)”, says the juror. He remembers “There were at least three jurors who thought Daryl was innocent, out of those three, one of them changed their vote to guilty… when I approached the person on why they’d changed their vote, the person replied ‘everyone else said he was guilty so I went along with it.’” The jurors took at least 2 weeks to make the decision.
Daryl is out of prison now and he is looking to move forward with his life, but the crime still haunts him. Currently he is forced to attend counseling and if he does not admit to the crime he can be charged again. “I want my story to be told because people think they know what happened,” says Daryl.
Currently, Daryl heads his own blog, in which it is currently ranked amongst the top 3 in the state of New Jersey. In addition, he was interviewed by Essence Magazine for his participation in Tea Party and he looks to hold community events. Earlier this summer Brooks held an event that entailed panelist that include Rutgers Professor and author Dr. Stephanie Bush-Baskette.
What do you think?
By: Delonte Harrod
Paul Quinn College "05"
Bachelors of Art in Mass Communications Emphasis in print and photography
To use this artical Contact Delonte Harrod firstname.lastname@example.org
Photo's of Daryl Mikell Brooks and Friends