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Nicholas Brooks 'Shocked' to be Charged in SoHo House Death

By Nicole Bode | December 10, 2010 12:07pm | Updated on December 11, 2010 10:10am

By Murray Weiss, Richard Reilly, Shayna Jacobs  and Nicole Bode

DNAinfo Staff

MANHATTAN — The boyfriend of glamorous swimsuit fashion designer Sylvie Cachay, who was found dead in a SoHo House bath tub Thursday, was charged with attempted murder Friday night, police said.

Nicholas Brooks, the son of disgraced composer Joseph Brooks, was charged with second degree attempted murder and strangulation, a new charge that Gov. David Paterson recently wrote into law to help domestic violence victims.

His lawyer, Jeffrey Hoffman, told DNAinfo Saturday Brooks intended to plead not guilty.

"(Cachay's death) would not have to do with any wrong doing by (Brooks)," he said after a meeting with his client.

"I believe it will be determined that she used a significant amount of prescription drugs, in general and probably that night."

He said Brooks was shocked when told by police his girlfriend was dead. He was even more surprised to be told he was being charged with attempted murder.

"The last time he was with Sylvie she was healthy and alive," he said.

The charges came after police went to court to obtain warrants to search Brooks' body for physical evidence, sources said. Cachay's autopsy could not definitively prove that her death was the result of strangulation, according to the Medical Examiner's office. The ME's office is awaiting the results of toxicology and tissue reports, which could take weeks, to determine the official cause of death.

Brooks, 24, was walked from the 6th precinct house on West 10th Street just before 9 p.m. Friday looking bleary eyed and exhausted. He'd been under police questioning for more than two days after Cachay's body was found partially clothed and slumped in a bathtub in SoHo House early Thursday.

Wearing a grey hoodie and looking at the ground, Brooks did not speak to the throng of reporters who have been gathered outside ever since he went in for questioning.

He was put into an unmarked Chevrolet Impala by police to be taken to Central Booking to be formally charged.

"They believe she was at least injured by him," a police source told the Daily News.

"We're confident the intent to kill her was there. That's what you need for attempted murder, that he wanted to kill her."

Earlier in the day, police obtained a search warrant to collect DNA samples from Brooks, 24.

Cachay's autopsy results, released a day after the 33-year-old's body was found, showed no clear cause of death, even though she was found with red marks around her neck. Officials are waiting for drug and alcohol reports before determining the cause, which could take weeks, the city's medical examiner said Friday.

Drugs may have also played a role, sources said. A half-empty prescription pill bottle was found beside Cachay's body, which police found in a bathtub full of water, wearing only a sweater and underwear.

Sources told DNAinfo that police were trying to get permission to take tissue and saliva samples from Brooks. Police also want permission to inspect Brooks' body to see if there are any scratch marks or other evidence that could indicate whether Brooks was involved in a struggle with Cachay, 33, before her death, sources said.

Cachay's parents told reporters on Friday they believed that Cachay was murdered, adding that she had just broken up with Brooks and may have been killed in retaliation.

"I feel that my daughter was murdered," Antonio Cachay said from his home in McLean, Va.

Antonio Cachay also told the New York Post that he found the circumstances of his daughter's death very suspicious, adding that she preferred showers to baths.

Police said they found Cachay unconscious and unresponsive about 3 a.m. Thursday in the fifth-floor hotel room she'd rented earlier in the night with Brooks. A hotel staffer called 911, they said. Brooks reportedly was not in the hotel room when police arrived, but he walked back into the room around 3:30 a.m. and professed to know nothing about the death, police sources said.

Cachay designed swimsuits and her line, Syla, had been featured in Vogue, Glamour and on runway shows around the country.