Emonte Antonio Brooks pled guilty today at the start of his trial in Lexington County. Brooks pled to Attempted Murder for firing a weapon into a West Columbia home located on Leaphart Street on the night of January 27, 2016. Brooks, age 20, was attempting to rob the residence during a drug-related transaction. Brooks was sentenced to 18 years by Judge Donald B. Hocker after admitting guilt to Attempted Murder along with charges of Attempted Armed Robbery and Discharging a Firearm into a Dwelling. The primary charges are classified as violent and are “no parole” offenses.
In what appears to be a growing trend, the home was targeted due to previous marijuana transactions between the residents and the subjects who committed the crime. The investigation, led by Inv. Chris Morris of the West Columbia Police Department, determined that Brooks and two co-defendants planned to hold the homeowners at gunpoint and rob them of money and drugs. However, the robbery did not go as planned and Brooks opened fire into the home. Brooks then attempted to gain entry by kicking in the door. Fortunately, no one inside the residence was hit by gunfire.
Eleventh Circuit Solicitor Rick Hubbard stated, “This case is a reminder that the drug trade is not only illegal, but can turn violent or deadly in an instant. We have seen several recent cases of a similar nature.”
The detailed investigation conducted by Inv. Morris allowed law enforcement to recover the firearm used by Brooks. Testing by the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) revealed that the bullet extracted from the victim’s home was fired from the gun used by Brooks. Additionally, forensic testing confirmed that DNA matching Brooks was found on the firearm. Handwritten letters by Brooks were also recovered in which he directed a co-defendant to change his statement. Eleventh Circuit Assistant Solicitors Kate Usry and Gill Bell, who handled the prosecution of the case, were prepared to offer the letters as evidence along with expert testimony from Gaile Heath, a SLED handwriting analyst.
Brooks has a prior record for assault and battery – 3rd degree and breaking & entering an automobile. He is being immediately transported to the S.C. Department of Corrections to begin his sentence.