Killer to spend remainder of life in prison

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Saturday, December 22, 2007
— The white-haired woman walked up to the district attorney in Rock County Court on Friday.

“Thank you, David,” she said.

Then she hugged him.

The man who killed her daughter had just been sentenced to spend the rest of his life in prison, and Monna Berryman seemed satisfied.

Julienne McGuire, 44, of Janesville was found stabbed to death March 27, 2006, in the office where she worked in downtown Beloit.

Shawn O. Brooks, 36, of Beloit finally pleaded guilty 18 months later.

In a plea agreement, Brooks pleaded guilty to first-degree reckless homicide, attempted first-degree sexual assault and armed robbery by use of force.

District Attorney David O’Leary on Friday called for the maximum allowed on those charges: 105 years in prison.

Defense attorney Robert Ruth called for 35 years.

Two young women argued that Brooks should be sentenced to prison not only for the rest of his life, but for the rest of theirs. They were McGuire’s daughters, Lindsey and Donna.

Lindsey told of how she graduated from high school without her mother there to watch, how she played softball in spring 2006 with no mom in the stands, how she was about to spend her second Christmas without her mother.

Her mother had a rough life, and Brooks took her life just when things were beginning to look up, Lindsey said.

“He is not worth my time nor the time of anyone sitting behind me,” Lindsey said of the family and friends who gathered for the sentencing.

“I hope Mr. Brooks never sees the light of day again, and I hope he wakes up each day in his cell just a little more miserable than the day before,” Lindsey said.

Donna teared up as she talked of a mother who taught her compassion and forgiveness.

That’s something Brooks’ mother apparently didn’t do, Donna said.

“He has shown more than once that he is a barbaric animal more than a human being,” Donna said.

“He took away not only my mother but my best friend,” she added.

O’Leary talked of Brooks long life of crime. He noted that Brooks is already serving prison time for battery to a jailer and for throwing bodily fluids at a jailer after he was arrested for slaying McGuire.

“I don’t see any reason to do less than the maximum,” O’Leary said, asking for 105 years in prison.

Ruth said the desire for vengeance is irrational.

A man’s lifetime expectancy is 77 years, even less for someone in prison, Ruth said, so 45 years would be enough to keep Brooks locked up for the rest of his life.

But Brooks has changed, Ruth said. He has admitted his guilt, and he agreed to plead guilty in order to spare the family the ordeal of a trial.

Ruth described the aftermath of an earlier hearing, when Brooks encountered a sheriff’s deputy who had been the victim of one of his assaults.

Brooks sincerely apologized to the deputy, with no prompting, Ruth said.

Ruth said Brooks has shown he is capable of rehabilitation.

The community cries out for vengeance, Ruth said, but in two days, people will have forgotten about this case.

Brooks, his feet in shackles and hands cuffed to a belt, sat quietly, chin resting on his chest, his eyes barely open, until Judge James Daley asked if he had anything to say.

Brooks looked up and spoke briefly: “I view myself as that monster the two daughters described. … I wish I could turn back the hands of time. … I understand what you gotta do, and it’d be the best. It’d be the best for the community. It’d be the best.”

Daley said he doesn’t believe Brooks is a beast or psychopath, but that he has acted like it at times.

“In a lot of ways, I believe you’ve begun to see the light, but as you indicated, I have to do what I must do also,” Daley said.

Daley said he had to take into account the effects of the fear that descended on the community after the killing. He had to take into account the fact that McGuire’s daughters still fear that what happened to their mother could happen to them.

Daley sentenced Brooks to 25 years in prison for each of the counts, for a total of 75, plus 50 years of extended supervision.

McGuire’s daughters were smiling after the sentencing. O’Leary said he believes the family is satisfied.

“Their major concern is they didn’t want … anyone else to have to go through what they’re going through,” O’Leary said.

Under Wisconsin’s truth-in-sentencing law, Brooks must serve all 75 of those years.

Unless he dies first.

Last updated: 10:17 am Friday, December 21, 2012

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