By  on January 5, 2011

NEW YORK — Hours after watching Nicholas Brooks plead not guilty Tuesday to second-degree murder in the death of his former girlfriend Sylvie Cachay, the victim’s brothers sounded off about their first face-to-face encounter with the accused. The defendant’s attorney, Jeffrey Hoffman, however, saw things differently.

In a phone interview with WWD, Patrick Orlando-Cachay said, “This was the first time I had seen this individual. It was terrible to see such a disgusting person. To observe his demeanor and the charges in court show that he has no regard for human life, for women, for my sister or for my family. It was a pretty daunting task in something I had never imagined experiencing.”

After checking into the members-only Soho House Dec. 9 with Brooks, Sylvie Cachay, a 33-year-old swimwear designer, was found dead and half-dressed in an overflowing bathtub. Last week the New York City medical examiner’s office ruled the death a homicide, claiming the victim was strangled and drowned.

If convicted, Brooks faces 25 years to life in prison. Hoffman did not request bail and Brooks is due back in court Feb. 8.

In a telephone interview Tuesday, Hoffman said he has yet to see a copy of the medical examiner’s report but expects to within the next few days. Based on “what the evidence seems to suggest” and through his own investigation, Hoffman said: “It sets up a very interesting scenario in terms of the events of that night.”

Hoffman said Cachay and Brooks wound up checking into the Soho House after Brooks put out a fire in Cachay’s apartment earlier in the night. “One might conjecture that if you are trying to kill somebody, would you put yourself in the dangerous position of trying to save them in a fire?”

Noting how the prosecutor said Tuesday that Cachay’s body was found underwater, the lawyer said, “If there were drugs in her system, that obviously could have happened.”

In addition, after “a few hours of being out and about,” Brooks returned to the Soho House, he said. “If you killed someone and you knew you had plenty of time to get away, wouldn’t you get away?” Hoffman said. “All this stuff needs to be sifted through.”

Asked if he was confident about his defense, Hoffman, who has been practicing law for 43 years, said: “In this business it is silly to guess.…I develop a case and see where it winds up.”

The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office did not respond for requests for comment at press time.

Orlando-Cachay, a renewable energy and financial professional who lives in Lima, Peru, and David Orlando, an M.I.T. postdoctoral student in biomedicine, plan to be on hand for any of Brooks’ appearances in Manhattan Supreme Court. “One of the reasons we have taken the brunt of coming to New York is that our parents are really overwhelmed. They aren’t capable of dealing with what has to be done at this point,” he said.

Orlando-Cachay and his sister never talked about Brooks, nor had he ever seen a photograph of the man now facing murder charges. “He was never a primary subject of any conversation I had with my sister,” he said. “We focused on vacations we would take or what was going on in our professional lives.”

Orlando-Cachay will make the commute from Lima, which can take eight to 16 hours one way, depending on the flight, as frequently as needed, as will his brother, from Boston. They are also dealing with her personal matters as well as the nonprofit foundation they set up in her name.

Orlando said a pack of reporters surrounded the brothers outside the courthouse: “Everyone from ‘Inside Edition’ to major networks and Latin and Paris TV stations was there. It was a little overwhelming but I’m not surprised by the extent of interest. It was a heinous crime against such a wonderful person who touched so many people in all different walks of life.”

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