A career criminal was found guilty Friday of kidnapping former Fresno County official Tim Casagrande from his north Fresno home, robbing him and taking him on a terrifying ride through the city last October.
Renard Brooks Jr., 27, of Fresno, showed no reaction when the verdict was announced in Fresno County Superior Court.
A jury of nine women and three men deliberated about two hours before finding him guilty of six felony counts, including kidnapping to commit robbery, kidnapping to commit a carjacking, burglary and unlawful possession of a firearm.
Brooks now faces life in prison. His sentence, however, is pending a hearing on his prior convictions that include carjacking and auto theft.
Outside court, Casagrande, who was surrounded by family and friends, said he was relieved the trial was over. He thanked the Fresno Police Department and the state Department of Justice for collecting the evidence and praised prosecutor Monica Diaz for presenting it to the jury.
"They all did a fantastic job," Casagrande said.
Casagrande and his wife, Alison, testified in the trial; Brooks didn't.
During the two-week trial, Diaz and attorney Kathy Marousek, who defended Brooks, agreed on much of the evidence.
On the morning of Oct. 7, Casagrande had just said good-bye to his wife, who was headed to work, when an armed intruder entered his northeast Fresno home near Clovis West High School.
The intruder shoved Casagrande face down on his bed and pointed a gun at his head. The intruder blindfolded Casagrande, tied his hands behind his back and ordered him to tell where jewelry, guns and money were hidden in the house.
After ransacking the home, the intruder shoved a blindfolded Casagrande and the loot into Casagrande's car and drove off.
Diaz said Brooks used Casagrande's debit card at an automated teller machine at the Fresno County Federal Credit Union in downtown Fresno. The ATM's surveillance camera video shows Brooks withdrawing $300, Diaz said.
Brooks then drove a Casagrande around Fresno before leaving him and his car in a southwest Fresno alley. Casagrande then borrowed a cell phone and called his wife and then police.
After the ATM photograph was published by the media, Brooks told his parole officer and police detectives that he was with a female friend at the time Casagrande was attacked.
But another surveillance photograph showed Brooks taking a city bus to a stop near Casagrande's home on the morning of the crime, Diaz said.
And when Brooks was arrested on Oct. 14, he was wearing Casagrande's wedding ring on a gold chain necklace, Diaz said. Brooks also left his fingerprints on a bus ticket that was found in Casagrande's car, she said.
Casagrande's wife, who had noticed a stranger walking in the neighborhood as she drove to work, later identified Brooks from a police photo lineup. Casagrande also identified Brooks from the lineup.
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