Reporting Irene Cornell
NEW YORK (AP/CBSNewYork) – An Academy Award-winning songwriter’s son has been indicted in the investigation surrounding a swimsuit designer’s death at a chic Meatpacking District hotel, prosecutors said Thursday, but the charges remain under wraps for now.
WCBS 880′s Irene Cornell reports
Nicholas Brooks wasn’t in court as Manhattan prosecutors announced that a grand jury had indicted him. He hadn’t been brought from a jail where he’s being held without bail on initial charges of attempted murder and strangulation, and his lawyer agreed the brief proceeding could go ahead without him.
The charge and details won’t be released until Brooks’ next court date on Jan. 4, as is standard practice. Brooks’ lawyer, Jeffrey C. Hoffman, has asserted Brooks’ innocence in Peruvian-American designer Sylvie Cachay’s death.
Her brothers, David and Patrick Orlando, looked on Wednesday from the courtroom audience, wearing buttons with her picture and the inscription “Sylvie loves you.”
“My sister meant everything to us,” David Orlando, 38, of Lima, Peru, said afterward. “I wanted to be available for my sister after her death as much as I was in her life,” Cachay’s brother Patrick told 1010 WINS’ reporter Juliet Papa.
Brooks, the 24-year-old son of “You Light Up My Life Writer” Joseph Brooks, was arrested after Cachay was found dead in an overflowing bathtub at the Soho House hotel on Dec. 9. Half-clothed and face-up, she had red marks around her neck and a bite mark on her hand, investigators said.
A bottle of prescription pills was discovered in the room. No illegal drugs were found.
An autopsy showed Cachay’s injuries weren’t self-inflicted or accidental, according to court papers. But medical examiners are awaiting toxicology test results to determine what caused her death.
Brooks and Cachay, 33, had been dating for about six months. But she didn’t consider him a boyfriend and was trying to break up with him, said Susan Karten, a lawyer for her family. Prosecutors have said a letter found in Cachay’s purse showed Brooks hadn’t accepted that the relationship was ending.
Brooks wasn’t there when Cachay’s body was found around 3 a.m., but he arrived shortly afterward to find police at the hotel. Brooks had left the hotel about 2:15 a.m.; he told investigators he had gone for drinks with a friend, police said.
Besides a hotel employee who delivered ice to Cachay’s room, no one else was seen entering between 12:30 a.m. and the time when her body was discovered, court papers said.
Hoffman has said that Cachay was “absolutely fine” when Brooks last saw her.
Brooks did not testify before the grand jury, Hoffman said.
The case against Brooks compounds serious legal trouble for his family. His 72-year-old father, Joseph Brooks, is fighting charges of forcing himself on 13 women, many of whom had answered ads offering auditions for movie roles. He has pleaded not guilty to rape and other charges.
The elder Brooks won an Academy Award for best original song for the 1977 ballad “You Light Up My Life” and wrote and directed the movie of the same name. It is about a comedian who has a one-night stand with a director. He is facing charges as a serial rapist.
Cachay lived in an apartment in Manhattan’s West Village and had a membership at the Soho House, an elite club and hotel that has hosted such stars as Nicole Kidman and Naomi Watts.
The designer, who grew up in both the U.S. and Peru, worked for Victoria’s Secret before leaving in 2006 to start a swimsuit collection. She had recently been working at fashion houses again after the economy soured and she lost her backing.
“I still can’t comprehend that she’s gone,” said her brother David, 29, who lives in Boston.