By LINDSAY OLIVIER
Special to the Standard
A former Narragansett resident who robbed four elderly women in three towns, including North Kingstown, two years ago was sentenced to 35 years, with 20 to serve and the remainder suspended with probation, last week by Superior Court Justice Melanie W. Thunberg.
Michael Brooks, 51, with a last known address of 125 Knowles Way Extension, Narragansett, pleaded no contest on Sept. 21, 2011 before Superior Court Judge William Carnes to four counts of first degree robbery. He had entered a plea of a 40 year sentence, with a maximum of 35 years to serve but just days before he was to be sentenced back in January, Brooks had recanted his knowledge of the events citing his “lack of memory”.
“I don’t remember any of those incidents,” Brooks said in January. “I was heavily under the influence of alcohol and narcotics. I didn’t get my memory back for at least one month after the fact while in jail.”
Brooks claimed at the time that he had vivid memories of that five-day time span but he wouldn’t be able to pick out the victims. He also said that someone else was with him when he committed the robberies.
“I admitted to those events because of the plea deal, so I wouldn’t spend the rest of my life in jail and that I’d have a chance to get out,” Brooks said.
North Kingstown Police Chief Thomas Mulligan has rebuked Brooks’ claim that he had help committing the crimes, saying that Brooks was alone on all the occasions and was caught driving the described vehicle by himself when arrested by East Greenwich Police
The development was enough to delay sentencing, however.
“If there was someone else involved then that person needs to be found and held responsible,” Carnes said.
A trial never ensued, but had it, the attorney general’s office claims it would have proved that on Aug. 29, 2010, Brooks grabbed Barbara Kogut by the throat while she was in her automobile in the parking lot of the Stop & Shop in Narragansett and ordered her to turn over her purse.
Later on the same day, Brooks allegedly approached Kathleen Macki in the parking lot of Dave’s Marketplace in East Greenwich, stuck a sharp object into her side and demanded her purse.
Both the victims and witnesses told police they saw a man driving an older model maroon station wagon leaving each scene of the crimes at a high rate of speed. Police issued a bulletin with the description of the vehicle.
Two days later, on Aug. 31, Brooks was said to have pushed Terri Ormond to the ground and stole her purse as she was walking in the Wal-Mart parking lot in North Kings-town. Ormond was treated for head lacerations and four broken ribs.
Shortly after the above incident, in the Dave’s Marketplace parking lot in North Kingstown, Brooks reportedly approached Helen O’Neil from behind, wrapped his arms around her and demanded her wallet before he pushed her to the ground. O’Neil didn’t sustain any injuries and saw Brooks drive off in the maroon station wagon, watching him wave as he held up her wallet.
Later that day, East Greenwich police spotted the vehicle with a man who fit the description of the robber and took Brooks into custody. Three of the four victims identified Brooks from a photo array and the other confirmed the findings through an in-person identification.
Brooks has been held without bail since his arrest. He’s originally from New York and has a long criminal record history, dating back to when he was a teenager, that includes multiple arrests for larceny and robbery.
“The defendant targeted elderly women whom he believed he could overpower and rob,” Attorney General Peter Kilmartin said during last Wednesday’s sentancing. “He then re-victimized these women by reneging on his plea agreement earlier this year. I am hopeful today’s plea and sentence will bring peace for his victims.”