‘I Can Go On With My Life Now’: After Initial Deadlock, Jury Decides To Convict Man Of Decades-Old Murder

After claiming they were deadlocked earlier this week, with most jurors leaning toward a not guilty verdict, a California jury has unanimously decided to convict a man for the 1980 murder of his neighbor.

On Wednesday, the jury found Phillip Lee Wilson, 74, guilty of murder and special circumstance of rape for the killing of Robin Brooks, 20, ABC10 in Sacramento. Her body was found in her Rosemont-area apartment nearly 42 years ago after she had been sexually assaulted and fatally stabbed.

The jury told Judge James E. McFetridge on Tuesday that they were deadlocked and that nine of the 12 jurors believed Wilson was not guilty, the Modesto Bee reports. The judge instructed them to keep deliberating on Wednesday. They came to their decision soon after.

“I’m so happy that she finally got justice,” Deanna Forrester, Brooks’ childhood friend, told ABC10.

Wednesday also marked Wilson’s birthday.

“There is justice in the world, and he will spend all his birthdays now in prison. I wish we found him earlier, but finally, justice has been done,” Micki Links, the main detective on the cold case, said following Wilson’s conviction, ABC10 reports.

Wilson was arrested in 2020 after genetic genealogy linked his DNA to the murder scene. Wilson had lived in the same apartment complex as Brooks and frequently visited the donut shop where she worked.

Last week, Wilson’s lawyer Thomas Clinkenbeard maintained that his client didn’t kill Brooks. Instead, he pointed his finger at a now-deceased man named Norbert Holston, who was dating Brooks’ sister, Maria Arrick, at the time, the Sacramento Bee reported. He claimed that just one week before her sister’s murder, Holston threatened to kill both sisters and Maria’s dog. Holston apparently had confessed to breaking into Robin Brooks’ apartment in the past and, Clinkebeard told the jury, he reportedly admitted to cleaning up his fingerprints during the break-in.

Clickenbeard admitted that his client smoked marijuana on the night of the murder and claimed he was intimate with the victim that night — accounting for his DNA match with the semen found in the victim — but claims Wilson left before the murder. He blamed “a few tiny drops of blood” of his client’s found at the scene on a workplace injury, the Sacramento Bee reports.

“I feel like I can go on with my life now. I think it absorbed a piece of who I was,” Maria Arrick told ABC10. “I feel good that this gives other people hope in the future that justice can be served even after 42 years.”

Wilson is due to be sentenced in April.