Fred Dalton Brooks in a recent Georgia Department of Corrections photo and in an undated photo from around the time of the 1976 murder for which he's standing trial this week.

Notorious cop killer finally pleads guilty to 1976 DeKalb killing

Fred Dalton Brooks, the notorious jail escape artist, kidnapper, robber and killer, finally pleaded guilty to a 1976 DeKalb County murder.

The 67 year old pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter and armed robbery in the death of James Earl Carter who worked at a Tucker meat packing plant, the district attorney’s office said this week. 

Judge Gail Flake sentenced Brooks to 10 years in prison. 

The sentence ultimately might not make much of a difference. He was already serving life for kidnapping and armed robbery and has another life sentence awaiting him in Mississippi for killing a cop, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution previously reported.

The guilty pleas in the DeKalb case, which came last week, were in the retrial over the March 1976 death of Carter, a 39-year-old Tucker Hormel meat packing plant guard. The Georgia Supreme Court earlier this year tossed Brooks’ 2014 murder conviction. The court said the trial court erred by allowing the jury to hear about the time Brooks killed a Mississippi state trooper in 1983.

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DeKalb prosecutors were going for another murder conviction when they agreed to the reduced plea.

Carter was found at the plant with his hands tied and seven bullet wounds in his back one day in March 1976. Authorities believe Brooks was one of two men who killed Carter while trying to steal money from vending machines at the plant.

James Earl Carter was working as an unarmed security guard at the Hormel Meat plant near Tucker in 1976 when he encountered Fred Dalton Brooks, and was brutally slain. After nearly four decades, Brooks was convicted for Carter’s murder.
Photo: File photo

Brooks confessed to the crime in 2012 in hopes that authorities would agree to move him from a maximum security unit in Jackson. Serving life for kidnapping and robbery, he'd been moved to the secure unit after an escape. He’s escaped numerous times from jail across Georgia.

He later claimed he falsely confessed to Carter’s killing. 

That, according to his plea, was false.

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