Family of man killed in theater parking lot: ‘You might have killed his body, but you can’t kill his spirit’

Antonio Bennett Brooks, 21, receives 50 years for July 19, 2021 deadly shooting of Larry Baxley, 74
Antonio Bennett Brooks and Larry Baxley
Antonio Bennett Brooks and Larry Baxley(RPSO / Family Photo)
Published: Mar. 27, 2023 at 2:58 PM CDT
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RAPIDES PARISH, La. (KALB) - The daughters of a Colfax man, who was shot and killed in the parking lot of The Grand Theatre on July 19, 2021, finally got to address their father’s killer in court on Monday (March 27) at his formal sentencing.

According to the Alexandria Police Department, Larry Baxley, 74, of Colfax, was shot and killed in the theatre’s parking lot around 8:45 p.m. on July 19, 2021. His daughters, Janice Baxley Hosey and Eva Baxley Davidson, told News Channel 5 in Aug. 2021 that their father had taken a woman and her son, identified as Antonio Bennett Brooks, who was 19 at the time, to the movies. Both women told us that their father was shot in the back of the head, with his own gun, then robbed. Police said the attempted second-degree murder charges came when Brooks almost hit two people when he sped off in Baxley’s truck.

On Feb. 23, 2023, Brooks, now 21 of Alexandria, changed his plea in court. Initially, he was indicted on a count of second-degree murder and two counts of attempted second-degree murder. He pleaded “guilty as charged” to the two attempted second-degree murder charges and “guilty” to the lesser offense of manslaughter in place of the second-degree murder charge.

There was an agreed-upon sentence. Brooks would received 40 years in prison for the manslaughter plea, which is the maximum. He would receive 10 years on each attempted second-degree murder plea. The time would run concurrent for each second-degree murder plea, and consecutive with the manslaughter plea, for a total of 50 years in prison. The sentence would be served without the benefit of probation, parole or suspension of sentence.

Since Baxley’s family lived out of town, an official sentencing was set for Monday so that Baxley’s family would be able to provide victim impact statements.

Mary Baxley Jackson, Baxley’s niece spoke first. She considered Baxley a father-figure in her life.

“You took his gun with the intent of killing him,” Jackson shouted at Brooks in court. “You get off with manslaughter. [...] They’re wasting taxpayer dollars on you.”

Hosey, the oldest of Baxley’s daughters, shook as she read her statement on the stand.

“I’m irate. Extremely irate,” Hosey told the court. “Broken, saddened, sickened. Words can’t describe writing a victim impact statement for the murder of my dad.” Hosey said she realized she couldn’t say what she really wanted to in court: “The court can’t handle what I really have to say. If I had my way, Antonio Brooks, you would not be here to hear these words.”

Hosey talked about her frustrations with the judicial system, which she felt protected defendants more than victims. She also talked about her father’s generosity: “My dad would do anything to help a child like you.” And, how that generosity ultimately got him killed: “He paid your way to the movies. He spent over a thousand dollars that weekend on you and your mama.”

Hosey told the court that she and her sister were raised by their single father. She called him her “hero,” and remarked on his service to our country as a Vietnam veteran. She said he taught her respect, discipline, family values, and love for country, among other things.

Brooks had little reaction.

“He raised two girls by himself - strong, hardworking girls,” she said. Hosey said her father attended their ballgames, school functions, and always had a pat on the back for a job well done. He also instilled gun safety.

“Gun safety was a huge practice in our home,” she said. “He taught us how to use one and the dangers of one.”

She pointed out to the court that her father was shot in the back of the head.

“You wanted what he had,” she said.

She called the sentence a “slap on the wrist,” telling Brooks, “you’re getting a lollipop.”

Hosey said there would be no forgiveness.

Davidson read the last text message she ever got from her father during her victim impact statement. She pointed to her shirt, which had one of their last photos together on it. She recalled getting the phone call that her father was dead and how she raced to get a plane ticket to get back to Louisiana.

One of the worst parts for Davidson, she said, was seeing a video on Facebook of his body.

“People are so heartless and inconsiderate,” she said of that video.

Davidson and her sister picked up the truck once it was released back to the family.

“I could see my dad’s handprint,” she told the court. “The smear marks where he slid down the truck.”

She also questioned why her father was with Brooks in the first place.

“I’ll never understand why a woman and her 19-year-old son go on a date with a 74-year-old man,” said Davidson.

After her father was killed, Davidson said the family didn’t have the money for a proper burial, so he was cremated. She said they couldn’t have had an open casket anyway. She placed a small urn of her father’s ashes on the stand for the court to see next to a photo of her father.

“My dad deserved a proper burial. He served his country,” she said.

At the funeral, those in attendance were fed fish that Baxley had caught just days before.

“Little did he know what those fish would be used for,” she said. Still, she said her father would be proud of the service her family was able to put together.

Now, Davidson thinks of the memories she won’t get to share with her father - including her own daughter’s wedding and future holidays.

“There has to be accountability,” she said. And, later, “I do not feel your sentence is just.”

“I will see my father again,” Davidson closed by telling the court. “His life is eternal. You might have killed his body, but you can’t kill his spirit and soul.”

Brooks was given the opportunity to address the family. Hosey walked out as he spoke.

“Nothing I can say can take away the pain of taking Mr. Baxley’s life,” said Brooks. He said he wanted to “beg for forgiveness,” but the family made it clear that wasn’t an option.

“I was on drugs and out of mind,” said Brooks. He said he realized that wasn’t an excuse.

“I accept full responsibility,” he said.

As Judge Mary Doggett handed down Brooks’ sentence, she sent her condolences to Baxley’s family.

“My heart goes out to you,” she said. “This type of case to be here and witness your pain, nothing will reverse this and bring your father back.” She pointed out that Brooks waived his right to an appeal when he accepted the plea.

Brooks was represented by Christopher LaCour. The case was prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Kelvin Sanders.

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