Judge deciding whether death penalty will be allowed in Dishon murder trial

Jessica Dishon
Jessica Dishon

By David McArthur

(SHEPHERDSVILLE, Ky., January 3rd, 2003, 6:30 p.m.) -- The man accused of abducting and killing 17-year-old Jessica Dishon in 1999 is set to go on trial for the teen's murder next week. On Friday, a judge decided whether or not David "Bucky" Brooks will face the death penalty. WAVE 3's David McArthur was there.

Brooks' attorneys hoped to eliminate the possibility for the death penalty for their client before he even faces a jury. During Friday's proceedings, family, friends and classmates told the court that Brooks dropped out of school before reaching high school. Barely able to read or write, Brooks never managed to hold down a job.

Brooks, 43, was arrested and charged in Jessica's death after a grand jury indicted him on Jan. 18, 2001. He is charged with murder, kidnapping, tampering with physical evidence and complicity.

The Brooks were neighbors of the Dishons.

Brooks is charged with abducting and killing 17-year-old Jessica Dishon from her Bullitt County home the morning of September 10, 1999. Her body was found 17 days later about seven miles from her home. She had been beaten and strangled.

Brooks has always maintained his innocence, but his attorneys say that in any event his IQ is too low for him to be eligible for the death penalty.

"Mild mental retardation doesn't mean just that you're retarded a little bit, where you have a touch of retardation," said Phillip Johnson, a psychologist for the defense. "This is a significant level of impairment."

Jessica Dishon's family strongly disagrees with Brooks' attorneys. "He took our daughter away from us, he took 17 years of our life away from us, now I want to take 44 years from his mom and dad," Jessica's father, Mike Dishon, told WAVE 3 News. "He's not stupid ... he knows what he done. He done the crime, now I want to see him do the time."

Although the Dishons clearly want the death penalty to remain an option in this case, the impact of IQ tests taken by Brooks are less than clear. Brooks has scored 69 on one test and 77 on two tests. The benchmark is 70 -- anyone with an IQ lower than 70 can't be eligible for the death penalty under Kentucky law.

One more witness is scheduled to testify, but could not be at Friday's hearing, so the proceedings were continued to next week.

Also, initial lab test results on evidence taken from a Camaro that Brooks' attorneys maintained was discounted during the investigation revealed no connection to Jessica Dishon. Nearly three years passed, however, from the time the tests were taken and Dishon's disappearance.

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Online Reporter: David McArthur

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