After six hours of deliberation Thursday, jurors who heard the case of James Kyle Brooks, accused of shooting his father in 2012 to collect a life insurance policy taken out in 2010, returned as a hung jury.
The hung jury announcement came on day three of the trial. If the State wishes, they will be able to try the case again.
The death of James Kyle’s father, Timothy Brooks, happened Aug. 8, 2012, though official charges against James Kyle for murder in the first degree with deliberate intent weren’t filed until 2018 when Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation (OSBI) picked up the case.
The insurance policy for $500,000, taken out in 2010, had a two year suicide clause in the contract.
While the State argued James Kyle shot and killed his father, the defense representing James Kyle maintained the death was a suicide, as James Kyle originally told police in 2012. The defense, represented by Mack Martin and Martin Law office, even argued it could have been an accident, though a history of Timothy’s mental health problems were also presented throughout the course of the trial.
Big elements to the case included a spent shot gun shell resting on the floor to the left of Timothy. The exit port for the gun is located on the right side of the gun, and because the gun is a pump action, the gun has to be manipulated or hit with enough force to eject the spent shell. Another portion of the case is that a new shell had been loaded into the chamber, and in a pump action shotgun, it would have to be manipulated or picked up by the forearm to initiate the reload.
The State said these elements, along with James Kyle being estranged from his father, lead to the murder charge.
Day 1 highlights included testimony from police who arrived on the scene at 506 W. Chickasaw in Marlow at 11:49 a.m. Aug. 8, 2012, just two minutes after James Kyle called police and told them his father had shot himself.
While police told the State about finding Timothy slumped dead in his orange chair with a shot gun wound to the abdomen, a witnesses stated James Kyle handled the gun when law enforcement arrived on scene, defense argued there were holes in the case and said the State didn’t prove it beyond a reasonable doubt.
Testimony indicated when law enforcement found Timothy, James Kyle picked up a shotgun found between the deceased’s legs with the barrel pointed toward his head. In an interview played for the jury on Day 2, James Kyle said he picked up the gun to move it because he thought law enforcement would attempt life saving measures. He was told to put the gun down, and complied, and went to his truck like he was asked from law enforcement.
James Kyle also said in the interview with police the day his father died that he had handled the gun previously because he moved it to attempt his own life saving measures on his father.
In Day 2 testimony from investigator with the District Attorney’s office, Justin Scott said he found it odd through the course of the interview James Kyle provided proof of why his prints would be found on the gun. He also stated he had never seen a suicide of this nature before.
In cross examination, Martin asked if it wasn’t true that Scott had been shown a photo just a few weeks ago of another suicide victim who also killed themselves with a long barrel shotgun wound to the abdomen. The State objected.
The court was recessed, but when opened to the public again, Judge Ken Graham allowed Martin to ask the question again. Scott responded yes it was true, and in redirect with the State clarified he had seen nothing of the sort when Timothy died, the current suicide case was not his and the new suicide victim used a mechanism to pull the trigger, not their finger.
Previous Day 2 testimony also brought out that Marlow Police Chief Jimmy Williams didn’t record his own report, though other officers with Marlow Police, such as Det. Antonio Aguilera, had. Additionally, Martin pointed out in some of the photos that ungloved hands can be seen touching the gun.
On Day 2, photos of a reenactment were also shown. On the day his father died, James Kyle told police his father held the gun at about a 45 degree angle and had threatened to kill himself multiple times if his son left. James Kyle told police his father had been seeing weird things on television that weren’t real and when Timothy began to believe James Kyle didn’t believe him, it agitated him. He said he was using his right hand on the trigger and his left hand to hold the barrel to his abdomen.
Photos of the reenactment show law enforcement use the left hand instead of the right, which Martin used in the defense.
Day 2 testimony from the Medical Examiner who handled Timothy’s body also showed the death was ruled as uncertain, though homicide was not ruled out. The Medical Examiner noted there were 34 inches from the wound to Timothy’s index finger on the left hand, which was the same length as the length from the tip of the barrel to the trigger. The Medical examiner also noted in testimony with the State the wound appeared to be near contact, but not contact.
In cross examination, Martin asked if the Medical Examiner checked the right arm’s length, which was what James Kyle reported the day he died. The Medical Examiner had and said only with extreme contortion of the body it was possible for the length to be 37 inches, allowing Timothy to shoot himself. He said it would take rotation of the shoulder and flexion of the body, and when Martin asked if Timothy could have been trying to get out of the chair and the gun went off, the medical examiner said it was possible. James Kyle told police in the interview it looked like his father was trying to get up from the chair when “boom,” the gun fired.
Martin also asked the Medical Examiner to revisit his report, which read the wound appeared to be “contact or loose contact.” Toxicology showed no drugs were in the system, including mental health prescriptions.
Day 2 testimony also came from an insurance representative of the company from which the policy on Timothy came. She said suicide was not a reason to deny releasing funds after the two year clause mark and though the State alleged Timothy didn’t know about the policy because it was filled out online and signed with an IP address that was the same as James Kyle. The company verified all electronic communications were also sent to the 506 W. Chickasaw address and the letters were submitted in court as evidence.
Day 3 Testimony came from James Kyle’s sister Jenny Head and her husband Jared Head. Jenny testified to the weird behaviors her father exhibited, including that when her mother died he didn’t believe she was dead, wouldn’t attend her funeral and was found wearing her cardigan. She said sometimes Timothy would put black electric tape over holes in the wall because he believed people were watching him. She said she picked up his medication every month and would line it up in pill dividers for him.
While she didn’t know much about the insurance policy, she did know that they received a check for some amount, just as her brother did. She said she had never been interviewed prior to 2016 about her father’s death and that the length of time that had passed didn’t seem right.
Her husband, Jared, told about how he knew of the insurance policy, how they financially helped Timothy because he wouldn’t pay for certain things, and said the insurance policy was taken out because of fears of liens on the house from the IRS. They were unaware that Timothy had any money at all, Jared said, because he had been fired from his job and didn’t pay for home insurance and lived a very frugal life. He said just as when the mother died, they feared more money problems coming their way.
Both Jenny and Jared testified they trusted James Kyle with their daughter, but wouldn’t take their daughter over to Timothy’s house because it was their "job to protect” their children and said sometimes they didn’t know what they would be walking into.
Closing arguments from the State pointed out there were suspicions with the insurance policy and the death of Timothy and asked the Jury to convict James Kyle because they proved the crime. The Defense argued they had not proven the crime at all and that certain elements were missing, and it appeared they were trying to pin the incident on his client.
Six hours later, the jury came back hung. It is unclear when the State will try the case again at this time.