Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Brooke Bennett’s Death Ruled a Homicide

~Michael Jacques

During an initial appearance before the court by Michael Jacques on a kidnapping with death resulting charge, Assistant U.S. Attorney Craig Nolan said, “The chief medical examiner of the state of Vermont has conducted an autopsy of the body, has positively identified the body as that of Brooke Bennett, and has certified the manner of death as homicide.”

The crime carries a maximum penalty of death or a lifetime prison sentence.

Nolan did not say how Brooke was killed. He told federal Magistrate Jerome Niedermeier only that the determination of her cause of death is “pending further investigation.”

Michael Jacques is being held until his trial because of his history of criminal violence.

Ray Gagnon, Brooke’s former stepfather, has been charged with obstructing the investigation by destroying evidence. Court papers say investigators still aren't sure if he played any role in the alleged kidnapping.

Gagnon also remains in custody as the judge ruled he was a flight risk and could obstruct the investigation.

Both men will be back in federal court on July 17 for probable cause hearings.