Witnesses testify in Tahoe City road-rage murder trial

AUBURN - Timothy Brooks admitted that he stabbed Robert Ash outside a Tahoe City restaurant, according to testimony given Tuesday by a Placer County sheriff's deputy during Brooks' murder trial.

Deputy John Lasagna testified that he met Brooks in the middle of North Lake Boulevard on the morning of Aug. 17, after being called to a possible stabbing outside of Syd's Bagelry. Brooks and Lasagna walked toward one another when they met in the road, Lasagna stated.

"He said, 'I'm the guy you are looking for,'" Lasagna said of statements Brooks made to him. "I said, 'Are you the guy who stabbed him?'" He said, 'Yeah, I ruined my life.'"

Lasagna said he then arrested Brooks and brought him over to a bench in Heritage Park, where the stabbing had taken place. Susanne Brooks, Brooks' wife, approached the men at the bench and was "fairly hysterical," according to Lasagna.

"She said, 'You don't understand.' She described that they were almost run off the road (by Ash). 'He almost killed us,' she said. She said they just wanted to get the guy's name and license," Lasagna testified. "She said Timothy spat in (Ash's) face and Ash threw a punch at Brooks."

Other witnesses called by the prosecution Tuesday included Lisa Fritsch - a motorist in Tahoe City the day of the stabbing who testified that she had to brake to avoid hitting Ash when he fell into the road .

Terry Lash, who owns a coffee shop with her husband in Santa Barbara, Calif., testified that she saw Brooks punch Ash forcefully with his right hand into Ash's abdomen.

"I looked up and heard voices raised," Terry Lash said. "His (Ash's) hands were in a defensive position. I saw the defendant take a swift blow to Ash's right side."

She noted that Ash landed in the street between two cars and she said to her husband, "This man has been stabbed." She saw Brooks say something to his wife and they fled. Terry Lash then said Ash walked in front of her and she asked him, "Have you been stabbed?" When he replied, "Yes," Lash asked "Why?"

"He started to go down to the ground," Terry Lash said. "I did not assist, but I was right there. He appeared extremely hurt. Another gentleman asked if he had been stabbed and I said, 'Call 911.'"

Defense attorney Thomas Leupp's tried to discredit Terry Lash's testimony where she said that Ash's hands were in a "defensive position," by stating that she did not give deputies that description at the time of the incident or write it in a written statement she wrote days after.

"You knew it was important to be thorough - right," Leupp asked Lash.

"That was not the focus," Terry Lash responded.

"You didn't think someone's hands in a defensive posture was important," Leupp questioned.

"The important part was the attack," Lash responded.

Leupp indicated later that because Lash did not see what happened before the final blow to Ash's abdomen that she did not know where Ash's hands were and that he could have had them up to punch Brooks.

During testimony, Brooks, 26, dressed in a light blue-collared shirt and dark blue sweater, looked toward his family seated behind him during parts of the testimony.


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