CROWN POINT, Ind. (CBS) – It was a chilling murder. An elderly Northwest Indiana couple was shot and killed, and their bodies were dumped in a forest preserve.
On Tuesday, their sons came face to face with one of the killers in court. Gregory Brooks Jr. will spend the rest of his life in prison. CBS 2’s Jim Williams reports it was an incredibly emotional day for everyone in the courtroom.
The bodies of Ruby, 76, and Milton McClendon, 78, were found on Oct. 19, 2009, about two miles from their home in a Calumet City forest preserve. Previously, they had been robbed at their home, and the home had been ransacked.
The two suspects in the murder have pleaded guilty. One of them, 19-year-old Gregory Brooks Jr., was sentenced to 120 years in prison on Tuesday.
Gregory Brooks, Sr., the father of the defendant, says he tried to keep his son away from gangs.
The McClendons are the parents of former CLTV talk show host Garrard McClendon.
Garrard commented on the sentencing after court.
“We have an amazing support unit in this McClendon family and extended family. And we feel for the Gregory Brooks family. I have forgiven them, as I said before. I have not changed my mind on that,” said Garrard. “But the judge rendered the decision today and the sentence. And now Gregory Brooks is in the hands of the Indiana Department of Corrections, and in the hands of Almighty God.”
The other suspect, Reo Jonta Thompson, 17, is to be sentenced Thursday.
Prosecutors alleged Brooks and co-defendant Reo Jonta Thompson, 17, beat the McClendons; stole $50 in cash, a rifle, jewelry and other items; then locked the couple in a closet. They then forced them into the trunk and drove them to the forest preserve where they were shot to death.
Brooks and Thompson were seen by multiple witnesses riding in the McClendons’ stolen Cadillac El Dorado in the days after the killings, and were captured on surveillance video selling jewelry stolen from the McClendons at a Hammond pawn shop.
The car was found abandoned on the Dan Ryan Expressway near Garfield Boulevard, and a witness described two males walking away from the car, which had run out of gas, prosecutors said.
When Brooks Jr. was arrested in Chicago on Oct. 23, 2009, he was wearing a bracelet with the names of the McClendons’ children and grandchildren on each link.