A man murdered a 74-year-old Palm Springs resident with a hatchet, then lied to police and changed his story to imply the killing was committed in self-defense, a prosecutor said Thursday, while a defense attorney alleged that his client was forced to respond with deadly force after being drugged, sexually assaulted and later attacked with a knife.
Jason William Brokken is accused of killing Kenneth R. Moody on Jan. 21, 2012, at the senior citizen’s Gem Drive home. Moody’s body was found inside a garbage bag on the side of Rudderow Lane in Sky Valley the following day.
The 52-year-old defendant, who reportedly moved to Palm Springs from the Santa Barbara area just weeks prior to Moody’s death, is charged with first-degree murder and a sentence-enhancing weapon-use allegation.
Police and prosecutors allege that Brokken, who was temporarily staying at a residence near Moody’s, visited the victim at his home and asked if he could use Moody’s shower, then killed him in his bedroom by driving a hatchet into his head eight times.
When Moody’s body was found, investigators found a phone bill leading them to his residence, where they found clothing stained with blood and “DNA blood evidence” in and around Brokken’s van, all of which matched Moody’s, according to the prosecution.
Deputy District Attorney Antonio Fimbres said Brokken initially denied owning the van and said that he got along well with Moody, and claimed he knew nothing about his death.
The prosecutor said that in 2014, Brokken tried to pin the murder on another man, and only after physical and forensic evidence linked Brokken to the killing did he concoct a story of being sexually assaulted and attacked by Moody.
Fimbres argued that Brokken’s attempts to conceal the killing, which included moving Moody’s body to the desert and cleaning portions of his bedroom, illustrated his guilt.
“His actions that day told you it was a murder,” Fimbres alleged in his closing argument.
Brokken’s attorney, Cameron Quinn, told jurors that Moody spiked a cup of coffee with ketamine and gave it to Brokken, andthe next thing the defendant knew, he was in Moody’s shower. He went home to collect himself, then returned to Moody’s home to try and figure out what occurred and Moody attacked him with a knife, Quinn alleged.
While the prosecution emphasized that Moody had no defensive wounds on his hands and arms — Fimbres said the victim was killed while sitting at his desk with his back turned to Brokken — Quinn alleged that Moody “charged” Brokken and was on the attack, removing any possibility of defensive wounds.
“He catches Jason by surprise, to which Jason must react. Moody is not in a defense posture,” Quinn said.
While Fimbres alleged that the number of blows to Moody’s head affirmed it was an intentional killing, Quinn maintained that Brokken did whatever he felt necessary in the heat of the moment to survive, and that lingering ketamine intoxication may have affected his perception of the situation. Nonetheless, “Jason had no intent to harm, let alone kill anyone,” Quinn told the jury.
He said Brokken did not immediately come forward with his claims regarding sexual assault because he was embarrassed and fearful of that information being made public.
Jurors were expected to begin deliberating Thursday afternoon.