Charge upheld in road-rage murder
Nevada Appeal News Service
TAHOE CITY – A Truckee man will stand trial for murder in connection with a fatal road-rage incident in Tahoe City last summer.
Placer County Superior Court Judge Richard Couzens ruled there is sufficient evidence to charge Timothy Brooks with murder in the stabbing death of Robert Ash, a 47-year-old Newcastle developer, outside of a Tahoe City bagel shop on Aug. 17.
Brooks, 25, is scheduled to stand trial Feb. 27 in Auburn, Calif., for allegedly stabbing and killing Ash in front of Syd’s Bagelry following a road-rage incident.
Couzens stated in a seven-page opinion filed with the court Friday that there was “sufficient evidence in the record to justify” the charge of murder. However, Couzens denied the district attorney’s request to charge Brooks with possessing a dirk or a dagger, based on insufficient evidence.
Deputy District Attorney Chris Cattran said he will seek to increase the bail amount set by another judge. A bail increase hearing will be scheduled soon.
Brooks, who was living in Truckee at the time of the incident, is free on a $250,000 bail bond. His attorney, Marcus Topel, said at an earlier hearing that Brooks would live with his parents in the Bay area if allowed to post bail.
At an October hearing in Tahoe City, a county judge lowered the charge to voluntary manslaughter. Cattran refiled the murder charge, but Couzens said at a December hearing that he needed time to read the transcript from the previous hearing.
The defense and prosecution disagree over who started the fight following an incident between Ash and Brooks on Highway 89 near Squaw Valley. Ash, who was driving a recently purchased Aston Martin sports car, allegedly passed Brooks and cut him off.
According to Topel, Brooks and his wife drove into Squaw Valley searching for Ash to learn his name. They drove to Tahoe City, where Susanne Brooks spotted Ash’s car about 30 minutes after the original incident.
Susanne Brooks ran over to Ash, who was eating a bagel and drinking coffee outside the bagelry. Topel has argued that Timothy Brooks followed, he and Ash got into an argument, Ash started a fistfight, and Brooks pulled out his knife in self-defense.
Placer County Sheriff’s deputies testified that an off-duty Tuolumne County sheriff’s deputy stopped Brooks as he was trying to leave and that Brooks admitted he had stabbed Ash.
“In his brief statement to the police, the defendant indicated simply that he and the victim had been arguing, the victim hit him in the face, he became dazed, he pulled out a knife and stabbed the victim,” Couzens stated.