Nicholas Brooks Pleads Not Guilty to Sylvie Cachay Murder Charge

By DNAinfo Staff on January 4, 2011 11:33am  | Updated on January 5, 2011 6:30am

By Shayna Jacobs and Olivia Scheck

DNAinfo Reporter/Producers

MANHATTAN SUPREME COURT — The hard-partying Manhattan man accused of strangling and drowning fashion designer Sylvie Cachay admitted to police that he gave her the drugs that rendered her helpless, according to court documents unsealed Tuesday.

But Nicholas Brooks, 24, pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder charges at his Supreme Court arraignment Tuesday, claiming that girlfriend Cachay was asleep when he left SoHo House for dinner and drinks the night of her death. However, authorities believe Brooks choked an intoxicated and barely-conscious Cachay as he held her underwater in the bathtub about 2:15 a.m. Dec. 9, sources said.

Brooks, who was arrested by police the night of Cachay's murder, made a series of odd comments to the detectives at the 6th Precinct, where he was being held, according to the court documents released Tuesday.

"Will I get bail? I have money in a trust fund, but have to get the money in person," he said in a police vehicle taking him to his arraignment last month.

"I'm Jewish and I'm worried about getting beat up by white supremacists," he added. "I watch the show Oz; I've seen what happens in jail."

A lawyer for Cachay's family insisted that she was brutally killed by a heinous murderer, as evidenced by Brooks' alleged behavior.

"To read that this person left the room after he killed somebody and went to dinner and had drinks is just mind-boggling and it just shows you the cold-bloodedness of this murder," said Susan Karten, the lawyer for the Cachay family.

Cachay's half-brother, Patrick Orlando said it was "disgusting" to see the "cowardly" Brooks in court.

"I think he has no respect for neither the law, nor human rights, nor my sister, nor the family," Orlando said.

Prosecutors said Brooks' version of events does not match up with the evidence. The bathtub he claimed he never saw Cachay get into was already overflowing and flooding the floor below by the time he left the suite, they said. Videotaped evidence shows Brooks and Cachay were the only ones to enter and exit the suite on the night of her murder, prosecutors also said.

Sylvie Cachay's brothers and lawyer exit court.
Sylvie Cachay's brothers and lawyer exit court.
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DNAinfo/John Marshall Mantel

But Brooks claimed that Cachay had wanted to take a bath to wash off the remnants of a fire in her apartment earlier, when candles set the headboard of her bed on fire. He said he had left the room by the time she got in the tub.

"When we got in, she said she wanted to take a bath to get all the feathers out of her hair," Brooks wrote, explaining that a pillow had caught fire.

In a separate handwritten statement, Brooks recounted their last day together.

It began with brunch at a Cafe Cluny on West 12th Street and ended in a feud over his penchant for hiring escorts, Brooks said in the statement.

In his comments to police, Brooks said that he and Cachay had fought and that he penned a note to apologize, but said the fight "was not a big deal," according to the police transcript.

 A grand jury indicted Brooks on second-degree murder charges last week, after he was initially charged with attempted murder and strangulation.

He showed up for his court appearance Tuesday looking clean-cut in khakis with a light blue shirt and tie. At his Dec. 11 arraignment, Brooks appeared disheveled and had a scraggly beard.

Brooks, the son of of infamous "You Light Up My Life" composer Joseph Brooks — who is himself facing sexual assault and rape charges — faces up to 25 years to life in prison if convicted. He's being held without bail.

Brooks' attorney, Jeffrey Hoffman, said his client was "devastated" by Cachay's death and would not comment on the prosecutors' accusations.

"They had a very intense and caring relationship and it's something that he's very sad over," Hoffman said.

Brooks is next scheduled to appear in court on Feb. 8.

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