A man who killed a 74-year-old Palm Springs resident by driving a hatchet into his head eight times was convicted Monday of second-degree murder.
Prosecutors had sought a first-degree murder conviction for Jason William Brokken, 52, but jurors found him guilty of the lesser count following two days of deliberation.
He is slated to be sentenced Jan. 30.
Brokken claimed self-defense in the Jan. 21, 2012, death of Kenneth R. Moody at the senior citizen’s Gem Drive home. His body was found inside a garbage bag on the side of Rudderow Lane in Sky Valley the following day.
The defendant, who reportedly moved to Palm Springs from the Santa Barbara area just weeks prior to Moody’s death, visited the victim at his home and asked if he could use Moody’s shower, then killed him in his bedroom, according to prosecutors.
Prosecutors did not elaborate on a motive, but Brokken’s attorney, Cameron Quinn, alleged that Moody drugged and sexually assaulted Brokken, then later attacked Brokken with a knife.
Quinn told jurors that Moody spiked a cup of coffee with ketamine and gave it to Brokken, and the 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.
Deputy District Attorney Antonio Fimbres countered that that the number of blows to Moody’s head affirmed it was an intentional killing, as well as Brokken’s subsequent actions to conceal the killing, which included dumping the body in Sky Valley and cleaning portions of the crime scene.
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.
Brokken initially denied owning the van and said that he got along well with Moody, and claimed he knew nothing about his death, according to Fimbres.
Two years later, the prosecutor said 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.
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.
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.