EPHRATA – Nathon Brooks can see his parents.
Judge Pro-tem Doug Anderson ruled the 14-year-old boy's parents can visit him as long as they don't discuss the case. He ordered the visits to be supervised and recorded.
“No matter how this thing winds up ultimately down the line ... The Brooks family is still a family, and we need to make sure that the familial relations can continue to whatever degree they will,” Anderson said.
Brooks is charged with two counts of attempted murder in the first degree for allegedly shooting his parents in their bed on March 8.
Deputy Prosecutor Kevin McCrea raised concerns discussions between Brooks and his parents might include items which would be brought up in a hearing to move the case from juvenile to adult court.
“There's really no way to talk to someone without talking about something that might be relevant to (the hearing,)” McCrea said. “I'm sure all parties would try their best to comply with the court order, but it's almost impossible to do.”
He suggested Brooks' parents and Brooks should be allowed to write letters to each other, and Brooks sister could visit him with supervision by Grant County Youth Services staff.
Defense Attorney Lyliane Couture said Jon and Elizabeth Brooks have a right to visit their son, saying the prosecutors don't have a strong interest in prohibiting them.
Couture asked for Jon and Elizabeth Brooks to be instructed not to talk about the case with their son, and the visits be supervised and recorded.
Jon Brooks asked to be able to contact his son, saying the effect of not having contact has a psychological impact on him and the rest of his family.
“My daughter had great concern or trouble with not being able to see her brother, her best friend,” he said, appearing to fight back tears.
Jon Brooks said he'd comply with any rules Anderson set.
“You've raised your child the best way you know how. You just want to be able to communicate with them,” he said. “It could be on the simplest of terms … Even something as simple as, 'What did you have for lunch?'”
Anderson understood some of McCrea's concerns, but he never had a case scheduled for a hearing to move it to adult court where prosecutors wanted to restrict contact between the person accused of the crime and family members.
He said the situation is different than a person assaulting his or her spouse. If someone raised concerns about the perpetrator influencing the victim, Anderson would be concerned.
“Here we have the parent (and) child relationship, and … I do not find that (Nathon Brooks) would be able to have, or be able to exert influence over his parents (on) how to proceed,” he said. “I'm not overly concerned about contact between Nathon and his parents to have an undue influence on the investigation.”
Anderson required the visits be supervised and recorded, and if prosecutors had concerns about what occurred in the visits Anderson would allow them to bring the issue back.