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Jury Deadlocked On Fate Of Alleged 'Predator' Accused Of Killing Neighbor In 1980

Most of the jurors said they believe that Phillip Lee Wilson did not kill Robin Brooks despite his DNA being found at the scene of the crime.

By Gina Tron
Robin Brooks Pd

A jury says its deadlocked in the case of a California man on trial for the 1980 rape and murder of a neighbor.

Phillip Lee Wilson, 73, has been on trial for the 1980 killing of Robin Brooks, 20, whose body was found in her Rosemont-area apartment after she had been sexually assaulted and fatally stabbed.

The jury told Judge James E. McFetridge on Tuesday that they were deadlocked and that nine of the 12 jurors believed Wilson was not guilty, the Modesto Bee reports. The judge instructed them to keep deliberating on Wednesday.

Wilson was arrested in 2020 after genetic genealogy linked him to blood and DNA from the murder scene. Wilson had lived in the same apartment complex as Brooks and frequently visited the donut shop where she worked. 

Last week, Wilson’s lawyer Thomas Clinkenbeard maintained that his client didn’t kill Brooks. Instead, he pointed his finger at a now-deceased man named Norbert Holston who was dating Brooks’ sister, Maria Arrick, at the time, the Sacramento Bee reported. He claimed that just one week before her sister’s murder, Holston threatened to kill both sisters and Maria’s dog. Holston apparently had confessed to breaking into Robin Brooks’ apartment in the past and, Clinkebeard told the jury, he reportedly admitted to cleaning up his fingerprints in the break-in.

Clickenbeard admitted that his client smoked marijuana on the night of the murder and claimed he was intimate with the victim that night — accounting for his DNA match with the semen found in the victim — but claims Wilson left before the murder. He blamed “a few tiny drops of blood” of his client’s found at the scene on a workplace injury, the Sacramento Bee reports.

Meanwhile, prosecutor Timothy Carr told the jury during closing arguments on Thursday that Wilson is a “predator” who had evaded consequences for raping another woman just three weeks before Brooks' rape and murder.

“Phillip Wilson was and is a charismatic man,” he said, according to the Sacramento Bee. “He is eloquent. He is a raconteur. He has friends. But he is also, as the evidence in this case shows, a man with a proclivity to commit monstrous acts.”

On Tuesday, following the announcement of the deadlocked jury, Clinkenbeard asked the judge to declare a mistrial, the Fresno Bee reports. He claimed that ordering the jurors continue deliberations could be “coercive.”

However, McFetridge said his decision was appropriate “given the magnitude of the evidence in this case.”

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