Timothy Brokes granted parole on earlier drug charge, leaving law enforcement frustrated

Although a trial has not yet been set for the suspect in a Hannibal murder, he will be released on parole for an earlier crime, much to the chagrin of local law enforcement officials.

But when Timothy Brokes leaves the Missouri Department of Corrections facility in Licking, Mo., on Thursday, Nov. 9, he won’t walk free. He’ll go directly to the Marion County Jail to await the conclusion of cases where he’s accused of killing Brittany Gauch, shooting and running over Aaron Gauch and shooting and wounding Monroe City police officer Travis Pugh.

From that crime spree in January 2016, Brokes faces seven charges ranging from hindering prosecution to assault on a law enforcement officer to first-degree murder. On the murder charge alone, Brokes could face the death penalty in convicted.

The seriousness of charges Brokes faces is one of the reasons why Marion County Prosecuting Attorney David Clayton is frustrated that the Missouri Parole Board not only granted Brokes a hearing, but approved his parole.

Back up four and half years.

Brokes pleaded guilty in June 2013 to a charge of possession of a controlled substance, a Class C felony. On that charge, 10th Circuit Judge David Mobley sentenced Brokes to 15 months of shock incarceration, which he completed in September 2014. Less than a year and a half later, while on probation for that drug offense, Brokes allegedly assaulted Aaron Gauch, killed Brittany Gauch, and assault Pugh.

While a prisoner in the Marion County Jail on those charges, probation for Brokes on the drug conviction was revoked and he began a five-year sentence in the Department of Corrections. He entered a state facility on Nov. 15, 2016.

Less than three months into his prison term, Brokes had a parole hearing on Feb. 2, 2017.

“It is unimaginable that an inmate facing capital punishment, like Brokes, is eligible for parole,” Clayton said. “I can’t speak for DOC but it’s no secret that inmates are increasingly being released earlier and earlier, sometimes only serving 10 percent of their sentences.”

Sharing Clayton’s frustration is Marion County Sheriff Jimmy Shinn, who as of Friday, Nov. 3, hadn’t been informed of Brokes’ parole by the Missouri Department of Corrections.

Marion County has a detainer placed on Brokes because of the pending charges. The sheriff’s department will arrange to pick up Brokes from the Licking facility to transport him back to the Marion County Jail.

“It seems we’re going after more and more from the Department of Corrections with pending charges than we have in the past,” Shinn said.

Clayton said offenders convicted of “non-violent” crimes — like drug possession — often see early releases, meaning someone in prison on a seven-, ten-, or 15-year sentence may go before the parole board less than a year into the sentence.

Shinn suggested that the state releasing prisoners on parole with pending charges is a way for the state to save money on housing that prisoner.

“This is the state’s way of putting these prisoners, which are state prisoners, back into our county jails. They are putting more and more burden on us sheriff’s — not just here, but across the state — with these state prisoners,” he said. “They know he’s in on a serious charge pending with a very heavy bond that he’s not going to bond out.”

Shinn said that puts the financial burden back on the counties. The state of Missouri pays county jails to house state prisoners like Brokes. Shinn estimated the state owes Marion County $250,000. But relief is slow to come as the state has already exhausted its $40 million budget for paying county jails this year by catching up on back payments, according to the Associated Press.

“What they don’t understand is that this is a burden on all our local tax monies to run and operate this county jail,” Shinn said.

Clayton expanded, saying that bouncing prisoners to and from county jails puts a strain on the entire judicial system:

“This has led many inmates to seek jury trials even where guilt is clear, because they know the sentence they will receive will not mean the sentence that they serve. This filters down to all personal in the system: It takes police off the street and requires them in the courtroom, more manpower is required by the Sheriff’s department with transporting inmates and providing security, clerks are performing more duties to assist with jury coordination and courtroom time, judges are taken away from civil matters, affecting other’s access to justice, my office is diverted away from balancing a manageable caseload due to disproportionate time needed in the courtroom, and more citizens are called in for service away from their families, jobs and/or schooling.”

The Missouri Department of Corrections didn’t respond to questions involving granting parole to offenders with serious, violent charges pending.

“The conditional release date is mandated by law per RSMo 558.011,” said Garry Brix, DOC Public Information Officer, in response to an email inquiry.

Clayton said he would like to see “truth in sentencing.”

“It eliminates the possibility of early release,” he explained. “Five (year sentence) means 5, 10 means 10. Because we are witnessing so many repeat offenders, the notion of early release for good behavior is outmoded.”

The parole of offenders with violent pending charges isn’t new. Earlier this year, the Monroe County Prosecuting Attorney wrote to Gov. Eric Greitens asking for help identifying solutions after a man — who was facing assault charges for allegedly attacking police in a Paris, Mo., grocery store — was granted parole on an earlier charge.

The letter was forwarded to the Missouri Parole Board for consideration.

Reach editor Eric Dundon at eric.dundon@courierpost.com .