Com­poser’s son found guilty in mur­der of de­signer girl­friend

Winnipeg Free Press - Section G - - ENTERTAINMENT - By Colleen Long

NEW YORK — The play­boy boyfriend of a fash­ion de­signer was con­victed Thurs­day of stran­gling and drown­ing her in the bath­tub of a swank ho­tel room.

Nicholas Brooks, whose fa­ther was an Os­car­win­ning com­poser who wrote You Light Up My Life, put his face in his hands silently as the mur­der ver­dict was read. His girl­friend, Sylvie Cachay, was found par­tially clothed in an over­flow­ing tub in their rented Man­hat­tan ho­tel room on Dec. 9, 2010.

Cachay’s friends cheered when the ver­dict was read, and Brooks’ sis­ter wept loudly and shook.

Brooks, 27, faces 25 years to life in prison when he’s sen­tenced in Au­gust.

De­fence at­tor­ney Jef­frey Hoff­man ar­gued Cachay drowned accidentally, pass­ing out from an over­dose of pre­scrip­tion pills she took to treat mi­graines and fi­bromyal­gia, a dis­or­der that causes wide­spread pain in the body. He said in­ves­ti­ga­tors rushed to ar­rest Brooks be­cause they needed a sus­pect in the high-pro­file killing, which be­came national news.

He said Cachay, 33, was “un­der the in­flu­ence of drugs, par­tially clothed, to say the least not in a ra­tio­nal state” when she got into the tub.

But pros­e­cu­tors sought to show that Brooks stran­gled Cachay be­cause she was break­ing up with him. The med­i­cal ex­am­iner ruled that forcible drown­ing and stran­gu­la­tion caused her death, in part be­cause of bruis­ing on her neck and burst blood ves­sels in and around her eyes.

As­sis­tant Dis­trict At­tor­ney Joel Sei­de­mann said there was ob­vi­ous ten­der­ness be­tween Brooks and Cachay but their re­la­tion­ship was made up of ex­treme highs and lows — and Brooks killed her in a low.

“When he held her neck and dunked her un­der­wa­ter ... that was the defin­ing mo­ment,” he said.

Brooks and Cachay were in­tro­duced by a friend in 2010 but were con­stantly on-again, off-again. Cachay didn’t like that they would drink too much to­gether, her friends tes­ti­fied. She wanted Brooks to get a job and be more proac­tive about the re­la­tion­ship.

Cachay worked as a de­signer for Marc Jacobs, Vic­to­ria’s Se­cret and Tommy Hilfiger be­fore she opened her own swim­suit line, Syla, in 2006. But the line strug­gled dur­ing the re­ces­sion and closed two years later.

Brooks was a col­lege dropout who worked odd jobs. Pros­e­cu­tors said he had a pen­chant for es­corts and mar­i­juana. His fa­ther, Joseph Brooks, killed him­self in 2011 af­ter he was charged with sex­ual as­sault in a cast­ing couch scheme.

On the night of Cachay’s death, Nicholas Brooks knocked over a can­dle and started a small fire at her apart­ment, burn­ing her hair. So they went to the Soho House, an ex­clu­sive ho­tel and club that cost $1,800 a year and up­ward for a mem­ber­ship. Sur­veil­lance footage shows them check­ing in at 12:31 a.m. Brooks is then seen pac­ing the hall­way, then go­ing down to the lobby and re­turn­ing sev­eral times be­fore he puts on a coat and leaves at 2:18 a.m. Cachay’s body was dis­cov­ered by ho­tel staff at 3 a.m.

Brooks later re­turned, a move Sei­de­mann said was a cal­cu­lated risk.

“He was not cer­tain that he’d done enough to fool the po­lice,” he said.

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