Missed court date adds 3 years to man’s sentence

By JOE GOrman



One day cost Talawrence Brooks three years.

The one day was a missed court appearance for Brooks on May 15, when he was to be sentenced on an aggravated robbery charge. Friday, he was sentenced to seven years in prison by Mahoning County Common Pleas Judge Maureen Sweeney, three more years than prosecutors had recommended for his original sentencing date.

Brooks, 20, of North Truesdale Avenue, was asked by Judge Sweeney why she should not give him the full 10-year sentence. Brooks said he wanted to stay out of jail so he could be a good influence on family members.

Sweeney, however, was not convinced, saying that Brooks had a lengthy juvenile record and that he had to realize he was not in the juvenile system any more.

“This is the big league,” Sweeney said.

Brooks is accused of helping to rob a man behind a South Avenue bar on April 7, 2012. A juvenile also was involved and admitted shooting the man, said assistant prosecutor Dawn Cantalamessa.

The juvenile’s case is being handled in juvenile court.

Prosecutors were set to recommend a four-year sentence for Brooks at his initial sentencing date, but he skipped court and a bench warrant was issued. Because of that, she said prosecutors were recommending eight years.

James Vivo, Brooks’ attorney, told Sweeney both he and his client realized that skipping the sentencing was not the best decision Brooks could have made.

He added he never agreed to the original four year sentence Cantalamessa said prosecutors were proposing for the first sentencing date, saying this was his client’s first felony as an adult and that his presentence investigation showed that his risk of reoffending was very low.

Sweeney, however, told Brooks she needed a good answer from him because she was thinking of sentencing him to the maximum 10 years.

“Tell me why I shouldn’t give you a 10-year sentence?” she asked.

Brooks said besides his family, he also earned his high school diploma and wants to earn his college degree and build a better life for himself.

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