Man sentenced for kidnapping, robbing Fresno Co official

FRESNO, Calif.

"I'm thankful that he didn't kill me accidentally or intentionally," Tim Casagrande said.

Casagrande briefly brought his attacker to tears as he left the crime in the past and focused on the future.

With his back against the wall, Renard Brooks sat a few feet away from the man he terrorized during a kidnapping and robbery that lasted several hours.

For Tim Casagrande, it may be the last time he'll ever have to see Brooks in the flesh.

"I won't see you anymore," he said during sentencing for Brooks, "but every day and certainly it's been for the last six months, I'll see him in my mind."

The first time Casagrande met Brooks, it was over the barrel of a gun. Brooks broke into his home, tied him up with his own clothing, then took him around town in his own car to withdraw money from the bank and get Brooks closer to his home base.

Casagrande says he's nearly drowned three times, he's been shot at, and he's stepped into hazmat situations he thought could kill him. His encounter with Brooks was still the worst moment of his life.

"What happened to me that morning was so surreal, frightening and the feeling of confined helplessness I've never had before," he said.

Brooks tried to disguise himself at first, but pictures, video, fingerprints, and witnesses all proved the 27-year-old was the culprit.

Judge Wayne Ellison sentenced him to prison for life, with no possibility of parole for at least 28 years.

For Casagrande, the crime has served as a wakeup call. He said his entire family, his neighbors, and even strangers are now more vigilant about watching their surroundings. He said it can be a wakeup call for Brooks as well.

"Today is a new beginning for us," Casagrande said. "It's a new beginning for you. You got to do something in prison to make your life better."

Brooks appeared to shed a tear as Casagrande spoke, but composed himself quickly and turned down the chance to say anything himself. His attorney says Brooks stayed quiet because he's decided to appeal the verdict.

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