Man sentenced to seven years in prison for fatal crash

Published 10:58 am Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Victim’s mother: ‘What you did is unforgiveable’

A man charged in a fatal crash in spring 2016 east of Hollandale was sentenced to seven years in prison Wednesday in Freeborn County District Court.

Nathan Paul Brooks, 27, was sentenced after he pleaded guilty to criminal vehicular operation. He was given credit for 436 days served, and he will serve his sentence concurrently with a nearly three-year prison sentence he received last October in Mower County for a probation violation in connection with a case of driving while intoxicated.

The charges were tied to an April 16, 2016, crash that killed Alex Dylan Tapp, 30, of Austin.

Nathan Paul Brooks

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Brooks is expected to serve a minimum of more than 4 1/2 years in prison, depending on good behavior. He would then serve nearly 2 1/2 years on supervised release.

He is expected to pay $8,336 in restitution, with prison wages being directed toward restitution.

In a victim impact statement prior to sentencing, Alex Tapp’s mother, Pamela Russell, said she could not forgive Brooks, because she did not understand his actions.

“What you did is unforgivable,” she said. “Your life goes on; Alex’s does not.”

She said she did not understand why Brooks has not apologized or shown any real remorse since the crash.

“You have destroyed him and our lives,” she said.

Russell said she has struggled after the crash.

“I try to remain positive, but sometimes it just isn’t possible,” she said. “No, I cannot grant you the gift of my hatred. You’re asking for it, but responding to hatred with anger is falling victim to the same ignorance that has made you what you are.”

Freeborn County Attorney David Walker said Brooks rendered aid to Tapp after the crash, remaining on scene and speaking to a dispatcher. Brooks did not speak to law enforcement on scene, eliminating the possibility of law enforcement testing him to see if he had alcohol in his system at the time of the crash, Walker said. Brooks denies having alcohol in his system.

Walker deemed the seven-year prison sentence “appropriately severe.”

Public defender Grant Sanders described the situation as a “terrible accident.” He said everyone in the courtroom was suffering emotionally and spiritually, and he denied assertions that Brooks was expressing remorse to get a lesser sentence.

Sanders discussed the leadup to the crash, saying the party where the crash occurred was on a dark country lot.

“That’s something Mr. Brooks will have to live with for the rest of his life,” he said.

Judge Steven Schwab said the incident is a “tragic situation involving the loss of life.”

“Justice is to be served here with the sentence I am about to impose,” he said.

Brooks admitted in April to unintentionally striking Tapp with the vehicle and leaving the scene, knowing Tapp was either injured or killed before law enforcement could gather his information. He said he did not see Tapp before the crash.

Brooks said he came to Tapp’s assistance and told people on scene to call 911. He reported in April that he asked for a helicopter and informed dispatch of the address where the house and pasture were. He admitted going toward his father’s house on the property, past first responders, after the crash.

Brooks admitted entering the house and sitting on a couch in the basement. He said he was in shock and did not intend to hide from law enforcement. The house was reportedly less than one-fourth of a mile from the crash scene.

Brooks turned himself in to authorities the following day.

About Sam Wilmes

Sam Wilmes covers crime, courts and government for the Albert Lea Tribune.

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