Shooting death can’t go unprosecuted

The mother of the victim of a Carbondale shooting is showing a remarkable level of forgiveness in asking prosecutors to show mercy toward the alleged killer.

But justice would not have been served if District Attorney Mac Myers had heeded her request not to charge Jessie Brooks in the apparently accidental shooting of his best friend, Robert “Bobby” Rogers.

When Myers filed reckless manslaughter charges against Brooks, he wasn’t showing a lack of human compassion toward an already anguished Brooks. Rather, he was showing a simple respect for human life – in this case, Rogers’ – and delivering the message that the taking of a life is not something to be taken lightly.

Brooks faces a reckless manslaughter charge after the April 2 shooting, which he says happened when he and Rogers were engaged in some sort of horseplay and the gun inadvertently went off.

Rogers’ mother, Las Vegas resident Donna Knight, says that jail time for Brooks would serve no good purpose.

“One young life is already gone, please don’t let it claim two,” Knight wrote in a letter directed at Myers.

Myers responded correctly that it needs to be up to the judge at sentencing to consider whether a case warrants mercy. It appears that Brooks might have no end of character witnesses available to him at that point, from Knight to the dozens of supporters who showed up to support Brooks at his initial court hearing.

Myers wouldn’t be doing his job if he didn’t file charges appropriate to the circumstances. He has to take into consideration the apparent disregard both Brooks and Rogers reportedly showed in handling a deadly weapon, and the amount of drinking that preceded the shooting. And Myers can’t simply look the other way when it comes to discrepancies between various accounts Brooks gave to police about how the shooting happened. These discrepancies need to be resolved.

It’s up to the system of justice to consider such issues, and it’s far too early to say what level of mercy might be warranted in this case. Our hope, like Donna Knight’s, is that the evidence and investigation will support a determination that probation rather than jail time will be an adequate sentence. As this exceptionally understanding mother points out, Brooks already must live with the guilt of the loss of his friend – her son.

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Glenwood Springs and Garfield County make the Post Independent’s work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.