All four suspects turned themselves in on Sunday and Monday. Lawyers for the suspects argue that their clients did not rape Brooks, but had consensual sex. According to Louisiana law, third-degree rape generally involves a victim who is “unable to resist or comprehend the nature of the act owing to a stupor or abnormal mental condition produced by an intoxicating agent or any other cause and the offender knew or should have known of the victim’s incapacity”.
In the early morning hours of January 15, Brooks, a sophomore from Madisonville, La. old and the other three suspects, show the logs. The East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office said surveillance video showed Brooks hanging out with the suspects at the bar and dancing with the teen.
When Brooks asked for a ride home from Reggie’s Bar, Carver, who told investigators he or the group did not know Brooks before that night, said the college student was “very unsteady on her feet”, unable to “keep her balance”. and “unable to speak clearly without slurring words.” Washington also told authorities that Brooks was intoxicated, saying, “She was drunk.” Deputies later said they were told Brooks asked for a ride home because she was so drunk and couldn’t find her friends.
Not long after the group left the bar, the car stopped. Washington and the teen raped Brooks while Carver and Lee watched over the vehicle, according to authorities. When asked by police if he believed Brooks was too drunk to consent to sex, Carver said, “I think so,” the records show. Carver later told authorities that Brooks “gave verbal consent” and claimed to police that Brooks consented after Washington repeatedly asked for sex in the backseat. Washington denied having sex with Brooks, according to indictment documents.
Carver, who was in the front seat with Lee at the time, eventually told the group, “We’ve got to stop this, let’s go,” the records show. The group left Brooks in a subdivision and departed, Carver said, according to investigators.
It was around 3 am, nearly an hour after she was dropped off, when Brooks was hit by a shared vehicle, authorities said. She was pronounced dead at a hospital. The driver of the ride, who called emergency responders, has not been charged, officials said.
An autopsy report found that Brooks had a blood alcohol level of 0.319, nearly four times the legal limit for drivers. The autopsy, which found she tested positive for THC, also noted that Brooks had “lesions consistent with previous sexual assault.”
If convicted of the third-degree rape charge, Washington and the 17-year-old face up to 25 years in prison, under state law.
Ron Haley, attorney for Washington and Lee, did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Wednesday. Haley told the WAFB in Baton Rouge that Brooks was not raped, arguing that the acts were consensual. He added that video of the encounter showed that Brooks was in a coherent state at the time.
“She voluntarily got in the car, said her rides had left her and she got in,” Haley told the TV station. “After that point in time, there were consensual sexual acts done in that car with her and two other individuals at two separate times.” He added: “You can tell she was intoxicated, yes. To the point where, under the law, you say you are intoxicated, to the point where you cannot legally give consent or answer questions, this was absolutely not the case.
Joe Long, Carver’s attorney, agreed with Haley, telling the Advocate that Brooks’ case was a “tragedy, but not a crime.”
“When all the evidence is known, everyone will see that it wasn’t a crime,” Long said.
Long declined to comment with The Post, but pointed to a New York Post story stating how Brooks occasionally worked at Reggie’s. The attorney also shared a photo with The Post that Brooks posted on her social media of her and two friends with the caption, “3 little Reggie workers.” It is unclear if Brooks ever worked at the bar.
Following Brooks’ death, the Louisiana Office of Alcohol and Tobacco Control announced that Reggie’s Bar was given an emergency suspension.
“This action immediately suspends the service or sale of alcoholic beverages at this location,” the agency said in a statement, according to WDSU in New Orleans. The agency said it was working with police to investigate the case and other recent incidents at the bar, and would hold an emergency session next month to determine whether Reggie’s should face any penalties. A message left at Reggie’s was not immediately returned.
Records on Wednesday morning show Carver and Lee were released from prison. Both must wear ankle monitors and remain under house arrest, WBRZ reported. Washington and the 17-year-old remained in prison as of Wednesday, records show. Washington is being held on $150,000 bail, while the teen is being held in juvenile prison pending a court appearance.
The news of Brooks’ death rocked the LSU community, which has suffered another tragedy in recent years. In 2017, LSU student Max Gruver, 18, died of alcohol poisoning after being forced to drink as part of fraternity hazing. In 2019, Matthew Naquin, then a 21-year-old LSU alumnus, was convicted of negligent homicide for his role in Gruver’s death. In September, Allison Rice, a 21-year-old, was shot dead in her car in what authorities believe was a random attack.
Brooks, who attended LSU’s Manship School of Mass Communication, was described by her Alpha Phi sorority sisters as “a bubbly, loving, selfless friend.”
“She was also a hero and was able to donate her heart and kidneys to save others,” the sisterhood wrote on Instagram. “We send our deepest condolences to her family and friends during this incredibly difficult time.”
In a statement on Monday, LSU President William Tate IV remembered Brooks as “a daughter, a granddaughter, a sister, a niece, a classmate and a friend to many of you.” Tate said the university will meet with local bar owners and “any establishment that profits from our students providing alcohol to minors” to see what can be done to improve safety around LSU.
“By all appearances, she was an amazing young woman with unlimited potential. She shouldn’t have been taken from us like this,” Tate said. “What happened to her was bad, and our legal system will dole out justice.”
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