Bucky Brooks Road Show Begins, Mystery Continues

 An accused killer facing the death penalty is released on bail, the money put up by a Sam Spade-like private eye with a heart of gold and a wallet to match.

Ordered to be out of town by sundown, the suddenly (and secretly) sprung defendant and his bride are whisked across the county line to a $40-a-night joint called The Flying Dutchman Motel.

The accused man's mouthpiece drops a dime the next morning, using a cell phone from somewhere, out there, to leak the couple's location to a reporter.
"I'm callin' to tell you where Bucky is," the lawyer says. "No one knows where he's at." Well, almost no one.

The legal eagle gives a room number, a deadline when to be there and a place to look if no one answers the door -- everything but a secret knock.

Pulp fiction? Pot-boilin' paperback?


It's the Bullitt County road show, starring David "Bucky" Brooks, fresh from a two-year stint in the can outside of Shepherdsville, his wife, Irene, (too bad her name's not Lucille) and Vincent P. "Vince" Yustas as the youse-youse lawyer orchestrating it all.

Brooks had been in jail more than two years, charged with the kidnap slaying of Jessica Dishon, his neighbor, who disappeared on Sept. 10, 1999, as she left for Bullitt Central High School, where she was a senior. His first trial crashed and burned in a mistrial near its completion last month after a Bullitt County detective improperly said Brooks had failed a lie detector test.

A motion to dismiss all charges against Brooks is pending in Bullitt Circuit Court. Commonwealth Attorney Mike Mann insists he is planning for a second trial should Judge Thomas Waller decide to go forward.

Despite the cloak-and-dagger nature of the call, this is page two of Yustas's script. Brooks was taken straight from jail the day before to a television station in Louisville for the first interview that many were promised but only one was granted.

Brooks and his wife are in the parking lot of the Flying Dutchman, a dusty, non-descript place on Fern Valley Road, a few hundred yards from Interstate 65 and the Ford plant. Low on money, they've been forced to check out of their economy room a little earlier than expected.

American Express secures another room for the interview and another night's lodging for Bullitt County's star-crossed couple. These accommodations have two double beds, an apparent upgrade from the night before, Irene says.

Brooks, dressed in a white T-shirt, jeans and tennis shoes, has lost weight while in jail, accenting his already diminutive size. But other than some permanent-looking pouches under his eyes and the poolroom pallor that is the signature of anyone locked up long term, he doesn't seem much the worse for wear.

Yustas has instructed him that it's okay to speak with me on this particular day; Brooks is comfortable as WAVE3 photog Scott Utterbach, called to work on his day off, clips a microphone to the collar of his shirt. Two chairs are pushed facing each other between the dresser and beds; Irene sits nearby on one of the mattresses.

One of the first things Brooks did after he was released was to telephone his 81-year-old father, James "Pop" Brooks.

"I just told him I was out," he said. "And that I'd be talking with him soon. He just kind of laughed. I think he heard what we was sayin'."

The elder Brooks did not attend the impromptu party at the Dutchman the night before, because, Bucky said, he was feeling under the weather and didn't want to go out into the damp night.

Midway through the interview, Irene moves closer to her husband, clasping his hand and, at times, resting her head on his shoulder.

A ground rule set by Yustas was that there be no discussion of the charges still facing his client, or of the trial that ended Feb. 10.

But we find a way to include statements about his innocence several times throughout the one-hour chat.

"Do you feel safe, does your wife feel safe, living in Bullitt County?" I ask.
"I believe we will be all right and everything," Brooks replies. "I believe once it's all over with, said and done, I believe everybody will come to an understanding of it."

"An understanding of what, Bucky?"

"That I didn't have nothing to do with it," he answers emphatically.

"Do you think you'll be able to go back to the (family-owned) water service when this is done?"

"I hope so, but my mother-in-law says no," he replies with a slight smile. "'Cause she doesn't want me to be too close up on Deatsville Road." The Dishons' house and the Brooks farm -- where the water-hauling business is located -- are next door to each other.

Brooks cracks wise when asked if questions of his intelligence were hurtful or embarrassing.

"During the trial, a lot was made about your lack of education. Did that hurt your feelings or embarrass you at all?"

"No, sir, not really, because half the people in Bullitt County ain't got no education," he replies with a wry smile.

Perhaps his lack of education has served him well, in a strange way, minimizing the impact of what's happened to him. He doesn't hesitate (until a word pops up in a question that he doesn't understand), maintains perfect eye contact and doesn't appear bitter or beaten down.

"Why do you think you're the one they picked out to be the only suspect in this case?"

"My opinion was that we had the water company right close to the Dishon home and we was just the scapegoat for them," he offers. "That's what I'm thinking."
The road show moved south Monday, back to Bullitt County, for a performance in front of the rest of the cameras.

Two, maybe three acts remain in this melodrama. Mann has until next week to file an answer to Yustas's motion to dismiss. After that, with everyone waiting at the will-call window, Waller, at some point, will issue a ruling.

If he upholds the dismissal motion, it's over. If not, the players will gather again to select the date for the final scene, with the expected opening of trial number two probably scheduled for this fall.