Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Michael Jacques - Repeat Sex Offender - Feds seeking the death penalty

Federal prosecutors announced Tuesday they'll seek the death penalty for a convicted sex offender charged with luring his 12-year-old niece to his home with the promise of a pool party before molesting and strangling her.
Michael Jacques is accused of kidnapping and intentionally killing seventh-grader Brooke Bennett, whose body was found buried in a shallow grave near his home in July 2008 a week after she went missing.
Prosecutor say Jacques, 43, had drugged Brooke before killing her and disposing of her body in Randolph, the small town where he lived just south of Montpelier and about a five-minute drive from her home in Braintree.

The documents filed Tuesday list five findings that prosecutors contend make Jacques eligible for the death penalty under federal law and 19 aggravating factors, including that he killed Brooke after "substantial planning and premeditation."

The decision to seek the death penalty was made Aug. 14 by U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, prosecutors said. On Tuesday the required notice of intent to seek the death penalty was filed in federal court in Burlington.

Vermont U.S. Attorney Tristram Coffin, who took office last week, declined further comment.

Brooke's father, Jim Bennett, said Tuesday the family was told about the decision to seek the death penalty before it was released.

Jacques pleaded not guilty last fall to a variety of charges, including kidnapping with death resulting. His attorneys did not return telephone calls seeking comment Tuesday.
Vermont does not have a state death penalty, but Jacques is being charged under federal law. If the case goes to trial it would be the third capital case tried in federal court in Vermont in the last decade.

When Brooke disappeared in June 2008, investigators thought she had been abducted by someone she met online. But investigators said they soon determined that Jacques had created the cyberspace trail to throw them off.

Jacques' indictment, handed down last October, alleges he used a 14-year-old girl to lure Brooke to his home by getting her to believe she would be a guest at a pool party there. The indictment and supporting affidavits make it clear prosecutors believe the 14-year-old left the home and Jacques drugged, sexually assaulted and then strangled Brooke.

The 14-year-old told police she believed Brooke was destined for a child sex club the teen had been in since she was 9.

Brooke was found buried about a mile from Jacques' house. Her death prompted the Vermont Legislature to revamp the state's sex offender laws.

Jacques had been sentenced in 1993 to six to 20 years in prison for kidnapping and raping a teenager he supervised at a Rutland restaurant, court records show. He completed the state's sex offender treatment program in 2000 and was released from probation in 2006.

"25% of all sex offenders re-offend within 15 years"
.........Sarah Tofte

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