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CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — Seaman Tiffany Marie Brooks said she doesn’t know why she jabbed a knife in Adam Palecco’s left eye after watching him die.

In a videotaped recreation of the crime shown at her court-martial on Sunday, an investigator asked her why she poked her knife several times into Seaman Adam J. Palecco, 21, after she and two other sailors stabbed and almost decapitated him.

Brooks stared blankly at the camera.

“I have no idea,” she said.

At the beginning of Sunday’s hearing in Keystone Judicial Circuit Court, Brooks, 21, a dental technician at Camp Hansen Dental Clinic, pleaded guilty to charges of murder, conspiracy to commit murder and obstructing justice. She admitted to plotting on Feb. 1 with Seamen Robert Person Jr. and Audley Evans II, also dental technicians, to kill Palecco, then to attacking him Feb. 2 in a secluded spot near the clinic.

Brooks, wearing a dress white jumper at the Sunday court hearing that seemed a size too large, also admitted to dumping the knives and bloody clothes in an off-base trash dump. In the videotaped confession, she said the trio also had planned to dump Palecco’s body off base but she didn’t want to get her car trunk bloody so Person and Evans dragged it to a nearby drainage tunnel.

Under a pretrial agreement, the government withdrew larceny charges against her. For premeditated murder, Brooks faces a maximum sentence of life in prison without parole and a minimum of life in prison with parole.

Evans, 20, of Royal Palm Beach, Fla., and Person, 19, of Turrell, Ark., were part of a shoplifting ring preying on Okinawa base exchanges, according to evidence at earlier hearings. The murder plot was concocted after they heard their friend Palecco, also a Camp Hansen dental technician, might testify against them.

Person pleaded guilty to murder, conspiracy, obstructing justice and larceny last week and was sentenced to life in prison without parole. In a pretrial agreement, all but 60 years of the sentence was suspended.

All three sailors are being held in the Camp Hansen brig. No court-martial date has been set for Evans, who also faces murder, conspiracy, obstruction of justice and theft charges.

Also awaiting trial is Evans’s girlfriend, Marine Lance Cpl. Jesika Jenkins, 19. She’s accused of knowing of the plan to kill Palecco and giving Evans a false alibi.

As at Person’s trial, security was unusually tight Sunday at the building housing the court. Those entering were scanned with hand-held metal detectors. An armed military policeman was posted inside the courtroom.

During questioning by Lt. Col. D.J. Daugherty, the military judge, Brooks said she plotted with Evans and Person to kill Palecco to avoid implication in the theft ring. She said she’d received some of the merchandise Evans and Person stole.

At Person’s court-martial, prosecutor Maj. Keith Parrella said Palecco knew about the shoplifting and was trying to emulate his friends. He had been caught and was preparing to plead guilty at a court-martial scheduled for Feb. 4, the day his body was found.

Brooks, of Carthage, Miss., was calm through most of the questioning but sobbed when asked why she agreed to kill Palecco.

After a brief recess to allow her to regain her composure, the judge repeated the question.

“Why’d you kill him?” Daugherty asked.

“Because,” Brooks answered, “I was trying to avoid getting into trouble. … We heard Palecco would give information.”

Minutes later, Daugherty asked her if she understood the terms of the pretrial agreement, in which Brooks agreed to testify against her co-defendants.

“You now agree to do what Palecco was going to do? Is that correct?” he asked.

“Yes, sir,” she said meekly.


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