Madison Brooks case flawed? WBRZ Investigative Unit obtains and examines DNA, autopsy reports
BATON ROUGE — Laboratory reports and autopsy results obtained by the WBRZ Investigative Unit on Wednesday show that DNA from none of the four men arrested after the death of Madison Brooks was found inside the LSU student, and her blood alcohol content was 12 percent lower than what had initially been reported.
Genetic material from one of the accused men, Kaivon Washington, was found in Brooks' genital area, but there was no sign of vaginal trauma. The autopsy did not say whether the DNA was found in semen, bodily fluids or epithelial cells.
An abrasion and bruising on Brooks' back side prompted a forensic pathologist conducting the autopsy to note it was "highly suspicious for a sexual assault," but the separate lab report said there was insufficient male DNA present and no indication of when an assault might have occurred.
East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney Hillar Moore III said Wednesday he stands by the case and is confident prosecutors can win a conviction. Moore added that he did not want to try this case in the media.
Moore sent the following statement Wednesday afternoon:
Although I do not know your source of information, the facts are that my office provided many items of discovery as obligated by law, in this case yesterday to three law offices representing these defendants. These documents were not placed in the public record but only given to these offices. We will continue to abide by our discovery obligations and file these matters with the court. The discovery that was provided as “read only”. It is obvious from the audit trail who received and viewed what evidence and how many times such was viewed. The source will be obvious. We have never provided any discovery to the media and we will continue to not try this case in the media but in the court in the best interest of all parties involved. Based on the release of this information we will seek a protective order to prevent future discovery being placed in the public record and handed out in a piecemeal fashion to protect our ability to present a fair case for the State, its Victim and these defendants.
The DNA report which I presume that you were given speaks for itself as does each of the documents and statements that were provided at the same time. It is one piece of evidence and can’t and should not be viewed alone, but must be viewed with all of the other evidence and statements.
Brooks died after leaving Reggie's Bar in Tigerland with Washington and three others. The men dropped her off along Burbank Drive, 3.5 miles from the bar, and she was later struck by a car and died at a hospital. A rape kit was completed after the woman died, and that occurred after her organs were harvested for possible transplant.
The East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff's Office, which sought the charges against the four men, said in the days after Brooks' death that the woman had a blood alcohol level of .319 percent, or four times the legal limit to drive a car, at the time she died. The coroner's office final toxicology results fixed the BAC at .282 percent, still well above the legal limit to drive and extremely intoxicated.
The National Institutes of Health says BACs above .31 percent can be life-threatening; those from .16 to .3 indicate severe impairment.
Washington, Desmond Carter and Casen Carver face first degree rape charges punishable by life in prison. A fourth person is accused of third-degree rape. Only Washington and Carter are accused of having sexual contact with Brooks; Carver was driving the car the five people were riding in but prosecutors say his actions helped facilitate the crime, making him eligible for the more serious rape charge.
Washington, who faces a separate rape count in Livingston Parish, has told WBRZ he had consensual sex with Brooks. He has told detectives that he did not have sex with the woman.
After Carver was indicted in the spring, Carver's lawyer said he expected the accusation: "He declined sex when offered and was called gay when he wouldn't have sex with her. The DA has seen it fit to pursue charges that could put him in prison for the rest of his life. Facts don't matter when the mob wants their pound of flesh," lawyer Joe Long said.
Carter, Carver and Washington were under the legal drinking age when they went to Reggie's and met Brooks, who also was underage. Everett Lee, the other person in the car, was 28 when arrested. State alcohol control officers have since shuttered the bar.
According to the DNA results from the Louisiana State Police Crime Laboratory, material gathered from 13 swabs and two washings resulted in insufficient male DNA samples from the vaginal, cervical, anal and perineal areas. A swab of external genitalia revealed DNA that could have come from Washington, but none of the others.
The day after Brooks died, Carver met with detectives and said that, after leaving Reggie's with Brooks, the five of them stopped along Jennifer Jean Drive, just a few blocks away.
"I could tell that Carver was visually upset, and was becoming nervous," an incident report said, quoting the investigator. "Carver then disclosed that M------ had sex with Carter and Washington in the rear seat of the vehicle as he and Lee sat in the front."
The Baton Rouge NAACP sent the following statement Thursday afternoon:
In the face of growing evidence, we, as a concerned group of citizens, challenge the unequal execution of justice that continues to disrupt our domestic tranquility. We turn to the timeless words in the Preamble of our Constitution to underscore the urgent need for a fair and balanced justice system.
The recent case involving Madison Brooks represents a glaring example of the skewed application of the law. Despite compelling DNA evidence indicating no involvement of the accused in the alleged crime, District Attorney Moore insists on moving forward with the prosecution.
The DNA report presents an undeniable truth: none of the accused men’s DNA was found in Ms. Brooks. In any standard scenario, this level of reasonable doubt would lead to the dismissal of charges. However, the DA appears intent on pressing forward.
The question, then, is why this case warrants such a substantial investment of resources, time, and public sentiment. Is the insistence on prosecution a response to societal pressure from covert racial hostility by some? After all, three of four of the accused are three young Black men who interacted with a young White woman.
The released DNA evidence affirms that no sexual intercourse occurred. Therefore, the notion of rape is objectively unfounded. This situation is starting to appear less like justice and more like a bad-faith prosecution against individuals who have already endured significant hardship.
In the pursuit of justice and domestic tranquility, as outlined in our Constitution, we strongly urge DA Moore to reconsider and dismiss the Madison Brooks case. It's time to ensure the principles of our nation are upheld and that the promise of justice is equally extended to all, irrespective of their race or socio-economic status.