Police at the SoHo House in the Meatpacking District on December 9, 2010. Inset of victim Sylvie Cachay, from her website.
The closest Sylvie Cachay's parents have come to meeting the songwriter's son charged with murdering her was in a courtroom Tuesday.
But the Peruvian-American swimsuit designer's parents didn't quite get to look Nicholas Brooks in the eye. Brooks said nothing and didn't lock eyes with anyone in the courtroom audience during the brief proceeding.
Cachay's parents, Dr. Antonio Cachay and Sylvia Cachay, left court saying they felt confident in the legal system and indignant at Brooks.
"It was terrible" to see him, Sylvia Cachay said at an impromptu news conference outside the courthouse with relatives and the family's lawyer. Wearing a button bearing her daughter's picture and making remarks in both English and Spanish, she said she was surprised that Brooks hadn't looked at Cachay's family.
"He looked like he didn't care," she said.
Brooks' lawyer, Jeffrey C. Hoffman, said he believed Brooks didn't know Cachay's parents were in court.
Brooks' own father, Academy Award-winning "You Light Up My Life" songwriter Joseph Brooks, wasn't in court to see his son. The elder Brooks, 72, walks with difficulty after a 2008 stroke, and he's facing an unrelated criminal case of his own in the same courthouse. The composer, who also directed the 1977 movie "You Light Up My Life," has pleaded not guilty to predatory sexual assault and other charges after being accused of molesting 13 women who came to his Manhattan apartment for supposed acting auditions.
Cachay, who had worked for Victoria's Secret and ran her own swimsuit line for a time, was found dead in an overflowing bathtub at the Soho House club and hotel early on Dec. 9. She and Nicholas Brooks, 25, had checked in a few hours earlier, after a small fire in her apartment.
The two had been dating for about six months, but the relationship was under strain, according to her family and his statements to police. Her family's lawyer has said Cachay was trying to break it off; he told detectives the two had been quarreling but their disagreement was "not a big deal."
Brooks told police that Cachay was woozy from taking an unspecified medication, and he left her sleeping to go out for a drink. He returned to find police at the hotel responding to Cachay's death.
Brooks has pleaded not guilty. He may contest findings that Cachay died of strangulation and drowning, Hoffman said.
"I think that the evidence, as it's starting to emerge, may show a very different picture," he said Tuesday, declining to elaborate.
A bottle of prescription drugs was found in the pair's room. But medical examiners have declined to say whether any drugs were found in Cachay's system, and a court has sealed the autopsy report.
Hoffman said he plans to consult a forensic expert after receiving further medical reports, photographs and other information from prosecutors.
In the meantime, Cachay's parents are returning home to McLean, Va.; her father is an ear, nose and throat specialist in the area. They said they planned to continue work on starting a charitable foundation in their daughter's honor while waiting for the criminal case to progress.
"I'm here for justice to be done," Sylvia Cachay said outside the courthouse. And, she said, "I trust that justice will be done."
Brooks is being held without bail; he's due back in court for a status update on April 26. If convicted, he could face up to life in prison.