Convicted killer William Alexander Brooks, at left, listens to his defense attorney, Willie G. Davis Jr., explain the proceedings Friday morning. (Staff Photo: Kathy Jefcoats)
JONESBORO — A Locust Grove man will spend life in prison for killing his cellmate over a Reese’s peanut butter cup in August 2012.
William Alexander Brooks, 22, admitted in Clayton County Superior Court Friday to killing Kenneth Robert Grochowski, 57, when the two were cellmates in Clayton County Jail. It is the first murder reported in the facility.
Clayton County Executive Assistant District Attorney Katie Powers said Brooks punched Grochowski in the throat, slammed his head into the wall and kicked him in the ribs when Grochowski fell to the floor.
“The defendant then moved the victim to the toilet and immersed his head into the water,” she said. “He fractured his thyroid cartilage and hyoid bone and the victim was unable to raise his head from the water.”
Powers said Brooks waited 10-15 minutes to request medical assistance for Grochowski.
“When officers arrived, he made the statement that he killed his cellmate,” she said. “And the reason for putting his face in the toilet was that ‘I didn’t like him for trying to take the Reese’s cup, so I killed him because he pissed me off.’”
Deputies at the scene reported Brooks smiled as he confessed to the crime. He also re-enacted the murder in a cell similar in size to the one he and the victim shared.
The hearing came to a stop twice Friday morning — once when Powers said that the maximum sentence Brooks faced for murder was life in prison without parole. His attorney, Mawuli Davis, said Brooks was “shocked” to hear that out loud, although the state was recommending the minimum of life with the possibility of parole.
The second time, Brooks got upset by something else and could be heard telling Davis he wanted to go to trial. Judge Geronda Carter called for a 45-minute recess so Davis could again consult with Brooks.
Before Powers read victim impact statements from Grochowski’s stepdaughter, Jayme Brobold, and sons Donald and Adam Grochowski, Brooks apologized for his crime.
Powers said Brobold wanted Brooks to never have a chance to leave prison. She said in her statement that Grochowski raised her from age 6 and was the only father she knew.
“‘He never hurt anybody,’” Powers read from her statement. “‘He touched many lives with kindness and loved with such an open heart.”
Brobold called the murder “horrendous, senseless and absolutely disgusting,” according to her statement.
His sons, too, remembered Grochowski as a “great man” who was “brutally murdered for his kindness in sharing candy with Mr. Brooks.”
In exchange for his plea to felony murder, the state dropped all other charges pending against Brooks, said Powers.
Grochowski was being held as a fugitive pending extradition to Illinois. He’d been arrested Aug. 8, 2012, at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport after arriving on an international flight from South America. Police said he fled the country to avoid prosecution on weapons violations, aggravated DUI and eluding officers in a 2007 case.
Police said Grochowski returned to the United States because he wrongly believed the statute of limitations had expired on the Illinois case. Grochowski had signed a waiver of extradition and was expected to be picked up to return to Illinois Aug. 20.