A jury in Brentwood, N.H., convicted former plastics industry executive John A. Brooks, 56, of murder and is considering whether to impose a sentence of death or life without parole.
The jury in Rockingham County Superior Court returned guilty verdicts on four felonies two counts of capital murder, first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder in the 2005 death of handyman Jack Reid Sr., 57, of Derry, N.H.
Jurors heard testimony from more than three dozen witnesses over about five weeks. They deliberated about nine hours from Oct. 14-16.
On June 27, 2005, Brooks and three men lured Reid to a Deerfield, N.H., barn and beat him to death, according to trial testimony. Reid's body was wrapped in plastic and placed in the bed of his dump truck, which was abandoned in a Saugus, Mass., shopping center. Security cameras outside the Target store recorded the arrival of the truck and men leaving in a car registered to Brooks.
The victim's body was found eight days after the murder.
Reid's widow and five children have filed a $50 million wrongful death lawsuit against Brooks.
Brooks' accomplices Joseph Vrooman, 52, and Michael Benton, 32, testified against Brooks in return for lesser sentences for their roles in the murder-for-hire scheme. Brooks' lawyers tried to diminish testimony from Vrooman and Benton and accused them of lying and telling inconsistent stories.
Another accomplice, Robin Knight, 56, is scheduled for trial in Brentwood beginning Feb. 2. A trial for Brooks' son, Jesse Brooks, 31, on a charge of conspiracy to commit capital murder is set to start March 9, also in Brentwood.
The penalty phase is complicated. While being held in jail pending his trial, John Brooks a multimillionaire according to testimony allegedly recruited inmates for various deeds, bribed prison guards, targeted enemies for assault and offered to build a new police station in Londonderry, N.H., if certain other charges against Jesse Brooks were dropped. Judge Robert Lynn was considering the evidence before deciding whether it could be presented to the jurors.
Seeking to corroborate or rebut the allegations, prosecuting and defense lawyers have requested access to federally incarcerated witnesses for the penalty hearing, which was to begin Oct. 22.
The Brooks case tests the resolve in New Hampshire for the death penalty. New Hampshire last executed a prisoner in 1939.
At one time, Brooks was being mentioned as a possible candidate for a high New Hampshire political office such as governor or senator. He was named New Hampshire's small-business person of the year in 1997.
He operated an orthotic practice, devised a way to make plastic orthopedic braces and, around 1985, identified a process using polymers that could withstand extreme temperatures to sterilize reusable delivery trays holding surgical instruments for operating-room procedures.
He sold the orthotic practice in 1989 and incorporated Poly Vac Inc. in Manchester to focus on vacuum forming trays. By 1994, Poly Vac began injection molding trays of polyetheretherketone and polysulfone in longer runs.
Poly Vac constructed a 112,500-square-foot facility in 1996 and soon merged with surgical instrument maker Othy Inc. of Warsaw, Ind. Brooks became chairman and executive vice president of business development for parent firm Orthex Holding Inc.
Now, Warsaw-based Symmetry Medical Inc. owns the business.