Preliminary hearing postponed for ex-con accused of burying Hemet - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Preliminary hearing postponed for ex-con accused of burying Hemet man

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A preliminary hearing for a man accused of killing and burying an elderly man in concrete, then stealing money from his accounts, was postponed Monday after the defendant attempted suicide.

Thomas Jeffrey Brooks, 40, is accused in the death of 80-year-old Edward Clayton Andrews of Hemet.

Brooks was initially charged in Riverside County but the case was transferred to San Diego after Andrews' body was found last September encased in concrete in the backyard of a San Diego home.

The preliminary hearing will determine whether there is enough evidence for the defendant to stand trial on murder charges that could lead to the death penalty. It has been postponed to Oct. 13.

The defendant and Andrews became pen pals while Brooks was serving time in federal prison in Victorville, said Deputy District Attorney Dino Paraskevopoulos. Riverside County sheriff's said that Andrews spent four years behind bars on a child pornography conviction.

The defendant, using a different name, met up with the victim at his Hemet residence after getting out of prison, and the two developed a romantic relationship, the prosecutor said.

Brooks was last seen at the victim's trailer home on May 30, 2008, while Andrews was last seen the following day, Paraskevopoulos said.

Friends later went to check on Andrews and found his cat inside his trailer, along with his medications and clothing, the prosecutor said. There were no signs of forced entry, and the victim's car was missing, Paraskevopoulos said.

On June 5, 2008, a neighbor got a letter supposedly written by Andrews, saying "not to worry" because he had gone on vacation with "Jeffrey" to Europe and South Africa, the prosecutor told the judge.

Investigators allege the letter was actually written by Brooks.

Fraudulent activity on the Andrews' bank accounts and credit cards began June 1, 2008, and Brooks was seen on surveillance footage making some withdrawals from those accounts, the prosecutor said.

In August 2008, Brooks was arrested in San Diego, where he was living in a 15th Street apartment, in connection with the alleged withdrawals. The defendant's landlord had a house on Alabama Street, and Brooks had told him that he could build a centerpiece orb for a backyard rock garden using concrete, Paraskevopoulos said.

After the orb was built, neighbors learned of Brooks' arrest, became suspicious and partially broke the orb open on Sept. 5, 2008, partially exposing a human foot, according to the prosecutor.

Authorities were notified and the victim's remains were fully unearthed. His body was wrapped in a blanket and plastic tarp, and duct tape and chicken wire were used to secure the remains in the homemade tomb, Paraskevopoulos said.

Brooks allegedly confessed to authorities, and said he gave Andrews a proper burial and that he died from a "lack of air." County corner officials determined Andrews died of asphyxiation.

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