VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) – A Virginia Beach man has been sentenced to just over 26 years in prison for the murder of his girlfriend.
On Tuesday, Wesley Lee Brooks, who came into the courtroom in a wheelchair, was given 26 years and one month. He killed May Joyce Washington-Brown on June 6, 2016, stabbing her 22 times.
The horrifying scene also involved Washington-Brown’s brother, who arrived at the home to find Brooks stabbing his sister. Her brother tried to pull Brooks off, was knocked to the ground, and Brooks left the home. Brooks returned to the home when police showed up and used the brother as a human shield before surrendering.
The victim had no family members in court, but as Wesley Brooks was brought in, he acknowledged his sister Ruby Coker, who would tell the court her brother liked to help the homeless at their church.
She said he had trouble from the start in foster care, that he had mental issues, but was happy go lucky.
That last description is a stark contrast to the man accused of stabbing Washington-Brown.
After the stabbing, Brooks is quoted as saying, “I just went berserk.”
It came out in court that Brooks had a long history of mental illness, even hearing voices in his head.
“He was mentally ill at the time, so he was schizophrenic,” said Brooks’ attorney Annette Miller. According to court testimony, the stabbing of May Joyce Washington-Brown was carried out after Brooks failed to take his medication.
“It doesn’t mean just because someone is mentally ill, they are going to commit a crime of violence,” Miller said. “He has some issues staying on the medication. Some mentally ill people do, and that should not be of any surprise.”
The fact that Brooks wasn’t on the medication at the time of the stabbing was not lost on Judge Thomas Padrick, who said he was surprised Brooks was even out of jail on probation after stabbing another girlfriend in 2003.
On December 14 in Norfolk, Brooks got 11 years and 8 months for violating terms of his probation for the 2003 stabbing. Miller added, “I will say this, someone who is properly medicated, and stays on the medication, can do well in society.”
Judge Padrick noted Brooks has issues staying on his medication, and called him a threat to society if ever released again. Miller said, “There were two issues: one was funding issues, and one was insurance, and sometimes individuals don’t stay on their medication because they think they are well.”
Judge Padrick gave Brooks the maximum, 26 years one month, under the second degree murder plea agreement. Padrick drove home the point that he wants Brooks to have the maximum sentence so he never walks free again.
So here’s what it all means: Wesley Lee Brooks is now 60. He got 26 years one month for the Washington-Brown killing to run consecutive after the 11-year eight month Norfolk sentence for the probation violation. That means Brooks will be 97 years old when he gets out of prison, which is, in the end, a life sentence.