Terrance Brooks was sentenced to 20 years in prison today for the murder of Zachery Funke, despite regret from Judge Thomas Motley that he could not impose a longer sentence on Brooks due to the plea agreement.
Brooks, who was 44 when he committed the crime, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in the fatal stabbing of Funke, 22, on Jan. 2, 2010.
Motley said he understood the U.S. attorney office’s reasoning for not wanting to put the victim’s and the defendant’s families through a trial, but added that if they had and the jury returned a guilty verdict, the sentencing guidelines would have allowed him to impose a 26-year sentence, which he would have preferred, citing Brooks’ record that includes robbery and drug convictions.
“You are a danger to the community,” Motley told Brooks, adding that in the weeks leading up to Funke’s murder, “the court tried to work with you.”
“Zachery Funke has no chances in life, nobody can take a second chance with him,” Motley continued. “You took his life at a family gathering over a money debt? Nothing could be so important that he had to lose his life at such a young age.”
According to court documents, Funke was a close friend of Brooks’ great-nephew and was considered a member of their extended family. At a family gathering January 2, 2010, on the 1700 block of Mississippi Avenue, SE, Brooks first punched Funke, who didn’t retaliate, then left the scene. He soon returned, brandished a knife, and fatally stabbed an unarmed Funke in the abdomen and in the upper torso. After bringing Funke to the hospital, members of Brooks’ family who witnessed the crime told police Brooks stabbed Funke, which led to his arrest a few hours later.
Brooks’ trial was scheduled to begin May 31. Funke’s father Karl died few weeks before, and Brooks pleaded guilty on the day the trial was set to begin.
Of the victim’s father Karl, she said, “It is not an understatement to say that he was uncontrollably sobbing at times at the mere mention of his son’s name.”
U.S. attorney Jennifer Kerkhoff stated in court that a primary reason for offering the defendant a plea was to spare his own family members from testifying against him at trial, who knew that their testimony would result in Brooks’ murder conviction, which she said was causing them “tremendous anguish and grief.”
Brooks did not address the court during sentencing, but his attorney Arthur Ago stated that while the defendant previously denied the facts of the case, his history with drugs and his “anger issues,” Brooks now understands what he did and how it has affected his and the victim’s family and is offering, “no further denials as to what he did.”
Brooks was on probation at the time of Funke’s murder. Five weeks prior, he was before Judge Gerald Fisher in District Court for violating his parole by repeatedly testing positive for cocaine, alcohol and PCP. Kerkhoff, who happened to handle the hearing, requested that his probation be revoked. Fisher decided to continue the probation and Brooks was released back into the community. Brooks continued to test positive for drugs, and was scheduled to report to in-patient drug treatment two days before he murdered Funke. Brooks tested positive for cocaine and PCP following his arrest a few hours after Funke died.
After Brooks completes his 20-year jail sentence for Funke’s murder, he will serve 5-years probation with supervised release to include anger management and drug treatment services.
Read plea documents below.
Press release from the US Attorney’s office:
District Man Sentenced to 20-Year Prison Term In Fatal Stabbing of Family Friend - Defendant’s Family Tried to Stop the Attack, Aided the Victim -
WASHINGTON - Terrance D. Brooks, 45, of Washington, D.C., was sentenced today to 20 years of incarceration for the fatal stabbing of a Maryland man in January 2010, U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen Jr. announced.
Brooks pled guilty in May 2011 to a charge of second degree murder while armed. He was sentenced by the Honorable Judge Thomas J. Motley in the Superior Court for the District of Columbia.
According to the government’s evidence, on January 2, 2010, at about 11 p.m., Brooks and the victim, Zachary Funke, 22, were attending a family gathering the 1700 block of Mississippi Avenue SE. The two men got into an argument over a few dollars. Brooks punched the victim. The fight was broken up by Brooks’s family members, who told Brooks to leave the area.
Brooks, however, returned to the area a few minutes later and pulled a knife from his pocket as he approached the victim. A family member attempted to intervene and stop Brooks from attacking the victim. Brooks stabbed the victim twice, once in the abdomen and once in the upper torso, severing his subclavian artery and piercing his lung. Brooks’s family members attempted to save the victim and drove him to the hospital, where he died of his injuries. Brooks was arrested a few hours later, asleep in bed a short distance from where he fatally stabbed the victim. The victim’s blood was found on Brooks’s jeans and boots.
In announcing the sentence, U.S. Attorney Machen commended the efforts of the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) officers who were involved in the investigation and prosecution of this case, including Detective Darin March, Detective Wayne Marable, Detective John Bevilacqua, Detective Keith Batton, Detective Jonathan Clingerman, Detective Anthony McGee, Officer Keith Halpin, Officer Thomas Barksdale, Officer Leonard Vaughn, Crime Scene Technician Fred Brown, Crime Scene Technician Curtis Lancaster, Crime Scene Technician Ralph Nitz, Crime Scene Technician James Holder, Crime Scene Technician Jay Gregory, and Crime Scene Technician Eric Coker. U.S. Attorney Machen also cited the efforts of several members of his staff, including intelligence analyst Lawrence Grasso; paralegal Kelly Blakeney; victim advocate Marcey Rinker, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Jennifer Kerkhoff, who investigated and prosecuted this case.