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Lawyer For Accused Rapist, Murderer Says Client's Innocent: 'He Had Numerous Female Friends'

Defense lawyer Thomas Clinkenbeard has been trying to convince a jury that Phillip Lee Wilson didn't murder his neighbor Robin Brooks in 1980 despite DNA, blood evidence.


By Gina Tron
Robin Brooks Pd

A lawyer representing a California man on trial for the 1980 rape and murder of a neighbor claims his client isn’t the killer, citing the man's popularity and charisma.

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

Wilson’s arrest was announced on the 40th anniversary of Brooks’ death 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. 

This week, Wilson’s lawyer Thomas Clinkenbeard maintained that his client didn’t kill Brooks. Instead, he pointed his finger at a now-deceased man who was dating Brooks’ sister, Maria Arrick, at the time, the Sacramento Bee reports

“Norbert Holston killed Robin Brooks,” the defense attorney stated in court. 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.

Maria Arrick, the first witness in the case, told the jury that Holston was in bed with her when her sister was murdered. Describing herself as a light sleeper, she said she would have noticed if he had slipped out of bed at all.

Clikenbeard rejected that depiction.

“It would be a terrible thing to think that your boyfriend killed your sister, but that is what she thought at the time,” he told the jury. 

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. “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," Carr added. "He is broken and has always been broken. He killed her in the most painful, grotesque way imaginable. He killed her likely both to fulfill a sick fantasy but also to get away with it, to eliminate the one witness who could have stood there and told what he did that night.”

At the time of Wilson’s arrest, Maria told Oxygen.com that the ordeal was “a pure nightmare.”

“The family and friends that are left behind for decades — 40 years — trying to figure out how to live their life while he goes on and lives this normal life … like nothing ever happened. The way he treated her, what he did to her was horrific, it’s awful and unbelievable,” she said, calling Wilson “an evil monster.”

She called her slain sister “lovely,” “compassionate,” “sweet,” “carefree,” and “very outgoing.”

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