A San Francisco blues musician convicted of murdering his girlfriend and singing partner with a hammer and dumping her body in San Francisco Bay in 2002 was sentenced today to 15 years to life in prison A San Francisco Superior Court jury found Bruce Brooks, now 59, guilty of second-degree murder in August for killing 50-year-old Juliette Williamson on May 5, 2002.Williamson’s partially decomposed body washed ashore on Yerba Buena Island about two weeks later. Brooks was arrested May 28 and has remained in custody ever sinceThe pair, who reportedly were homeless and lived out of a bus, had moved from Illinois and performed on San Francisco streets as the Chicago Brother and Sister Blues Band. Williamson used the stage name Juliette Valentine.According to prosecutors, following an argument, Brooks struck Williamson 14 times in the head with a hammer, and later dropped her body into the Bay near the former Hunters Point Naval Shipyard.Prosecutors had sought a first-degree murder conviction, but the jury ruled out premeditation and deliberation on the part of Brooks.The couple had a turbulent history, including drug and alcohol abuse, and Williamson had been arrested for domestic violence against Brooks a week before the killing. One of her sisters testified at Brooks’ trial that Williamson had been defending herself when she bit him in the ear.Assistant District Attorney Scot Clark today called the murder “especially brutal,” which, along with Brooks’ attempt to dispose of the body, showed “staggering cruelty,” he said.”She was a one-of-a-kind beauty,” one of Williamson’s sisters wrote in a letter that was read aloud in court at today’s sentencing hearing. “I know who’s hurting more than anyone — it’s you,” she wrote to Brooks. “Because when you took her life, you self-destructed.” “Every day I listen to the voice of my sister singing the blues,” another sister wrote. “Unfortunately, this tragedy can’t be undone and you will have to account for your actions. From my heart I forgive you.”Brooks’ attorney V. Roy Lefcourt maintained that his client was “extremely remorseful,” but trial Judge Cynthia Ming-Mei Lee expressed some skepticism.Lee said that when Brooks took the witness stand during the trial, “He did appear to express regret for how it turned out.” But, Lee added, “He didn’t call police and say, ‘I just killed the love of my life.'”Instead, Brooks tried to hide Williamson’s body and later claimed it was a burial at sea, Lee said.Though the 15-years-to-life sentence is mandatory for a second-degree murder conviction, Brooks asked Lee today for a moment to make a short statement to the court. “I’d just like to tell you, and everybody else,” he said in a hushed voice, “that sorry and regret don’t begin to explain how bad I feel.” “So, I’m just terribly sorry that all this happened,” he whispered.
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