PRINCETON, WV (WVNS) — A 44-year-old woman on trial for first-degree murder in the March 23, 2022, fatal shooting of a 13-year-old North Carolina girl pleaded guilty to second-degree murder on Wednesday, May 31, 2023.
Nichole Brooks, of Bluefield, now faces up to 30 years in prison for her role in the girl’s death.
Mercer County Prosecuting Attorney Brian Cochran opened the state’s case on Tuesday, May 30, 2023, by calling several witnesses who testified about events leading to the girl’s death.
Cochran said video from that night, collected from bystanders and video surveillance cameras, shows fatal gunfire coming from a vehicle Brooks was driving along Cumberland Road in Bluefield.
Brooks’ daughter, Isis Wallace, was a passenger.
On Wednesday, the second day of Brooks’ trial, Brooks pleaded guilty to second-degree murder — a lesser charge.
Cochran said it was a tough decision.
“I feel like Ms. Brooks is guilty of first-degree murder,” Cochran said. “I feel like her daughter, Isis Wallace, is guilty of first-degree murder. However, the mother of the child wanted finality. She wanted closure. And she wanted certainty.”
Cochran said Wallace’s boyfriend, Quan Barnes, was arrested for domestic battery shortly before the murder.
A relative of Barnes, along with her 13-year-old daughter, came up from North Carolina to make bond and bring Barnes to North Carolina, Cochran said.
The prosecutor said Brooks and Wallace began pursuing the other vehicle and caught up with it at the intersection of Cumberland Road and U.S. 460.
“When they catch up to them at the intersection, a shot was fired into the vehicle, and it struck the thirteen year old child in the back of the head,” said Cochran. “She was sitting in the backseat. This child was absolutely innocent, didn’t do nothing wrong, had no involvement in anything. She was just an innocent victim.”
Wallace and Brooks fled from authorities and were later arrested in Delaware and charged with first-degree murder, wanton endangerment and conspiracy.
Cochran said on Wednesday they bear equal responsibility, regardless of who fired the fatal shot.
Wallace pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and related charges in March.
Wallace faces up to 50 years in prison when she’s sentenced on June 2, 2023. She will be eligible for parole in fifteen years.