New developments in the Brooke Bennett murder case...
Brooke's uncle, Michael Jacques, 42, of Randolph, has been indicted for kidnapping and killing the 12-year-old girl from Braintree. And the federal grand jury says Jacques is eligible for the death penalty if he is convicted.
The court papers made public Wednesday detail how Brooke died and what prosecutors believe was the motive for Jacques to kidnap and kill her.
According to the six-count indictment, back in 2003 Michael Jacques tricked a then-9-year-old girl into thinking a made-up group called Breckenridge would kill her if she did not have sex with him. Over the past five years, Jacques allegedly drugged the girl, sexually assaulted her, and videotaped the acts.
According to the indictment, Jacques asked that girl to help him kidnap Brooke Bennett. Jacques told her Bennett was "causing significant problems" for the girl's father, who Jacques claimed was suicidal.
So on June 25th, Jacques and the girl lured Bennett to his home in Randolph. The girl left, and, the indictment alleges, Jacques drugged, sexually assaulted, and murdered Brooke Bennett. The Vermont medical examiner determined she was strangled and smothered with a plastic bag over her head.
The nine-page indictment includes a "Notice of Special Findings" in which the federal grand jury explains why Jacques would be eligible for the death penalty.
It alleges Bennett's death occurred during the commission of kidnapping, was done in an especially heinous, cruel or depraved manner and after substantial planning and premeditation. And the victim was particularly vulnerable due to youth or infirmity.
The decision on whether to seek the death penalty against Jacques will be made by the U.S. Attorney General after a thorough review of the facts and the law. That decision is not expected for several months.
As for the other person in federal custody in connection to this case, the U.S. Attorney announced the obstruction of justice charge against Brooke Bennett's former stepfather has been dismissed. But Raymond Gagnon, 40, of San Antonio, Tex., is not off the hook. He has been indicted by a federal grand jury in Texas on a charge of transportation on production of child pornography. Gagnon had been charged with obstruction for throwing away a computer that police suspected may have been used to alter information on Bennett's MySpace page.
It's been three months since Jacques and Gagnon were arrested. We don't know what took so long for the indictments. U.S. Attorney Tom Anderson would not comment on the case. We do know that probable cause hearings had been scheduled back in late July, early August. But they were cancelled because federal prosecutors wanted at least 60 more days to gather additional evidence for potential indictments against both men. That 60 days is up, and the indictments have now been delivered.
Next up will be an arraignment in federal court. That has not yet been scheduled.