Man gets 11 years in robbery of realtor



Paul Brooks has admitted his role in the robbery of a Boardman real-estate agent more than two years ago and will spend the next 11 years behind bars.

Brooks, 30, of Youngs-town, in an agreement with prosecutors, pleaded guilty to one count of aggravated robbery with a gun specification and one count of kidnapping. He appeared Tuesday for sentencing before Judge James C. Evans of Mahoning County Common Pleas Court.

Brooks and his brother Robert Brooks, 28, of Castalia Avenue, were accused of robbing a female real-estate agent at gunpoint in September 2010 when she showed them an apartment at 4020 Hillman Way.

Paul Brooks was on parole for aggravated robbery out of Wisconsin at the time of his crime here and likely will face additional time in that state before or after serving any time in Ohio.

The victim in the Boardman crime was notified about the sentencing but did not appear in court to make a victim’s impact statement.

Brooks, appearing with his attorney Anthony Meranto, asked the judge for leniency.

“I would like to take full responsibility and say I am sorry for all the trouble I have caused,” he said before sentencing.

Judge Evans accepted the agreed-upon sentence of eight years on each of the two counts to run concurrently and three years for the gun specification. Brooks will receive credit for the 875 days he already has spent in the county jail.

Meranto said 11 years is a bit much for his client’s limited role in the crime, but his client agreed to the plea deal when looking at the overall case.

“I know he feels bad,” Meranto said. “His mom is in court, and this is a difficult situation for her to be in with both her sons incarcerated. ... He would just like to put this behind him.”

In addition to the Boardman robbery, Robert Brooks also is charged with the death of Vivian Martin, 67, who was found in a burning home at 3660 Nelson Ave. on Sept. 20, 2010.

Police believe Martin was attacked when showing the house to Robert Brooks and Grant Cooper, 23, of Sulgrave Drive, Brookfield.

Robert Brooks and Cooper both are charged with aggravated murder, aggravated robbery, kidnapping and aggravated arson in Martin’s death. The charges have death-penalty specifications.

Investigators with the county coroner’s office determined that Martin had been strangled to death before the vacant home was set on fire with her inside. County Prosecutor Paul Gains said it is believed that Robert Brooks and Cooper shared equally in the murder.

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