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Murder suspect says he left his girlfriend sleeping in SoHo hotel

The son of an Academy Award-winning songwriter told police he left his swimsuit designer girlfriend sleeping in a trendy hotel room where she was found strangled and drowned hours later in Lower Manhattan's SoHo section, a court document showed Tuesday as he pleaded not guilty to murdering her.

The newly released document provides the first detailed look at Nicholas Brooks' complicated account of the hours surrounding Sylvie Cachay's headline-grabbing Dec. 9 death. His story included a fire in Cachay's apartment and some cocaine-fueled carousing with someone whom he had apparently just met.

Brooks said he had nothing to do with Cachay's death and told police he never went near the tub.

But a prosecutor said there was "no question" Brooks killed Cachay.

"The evidence in this case makes clear that when Nicholas Brooks left Soho House for the last time on Dec. 9, Sylvie Cachay was already dead at the bottom of an overflowing bathtub," Manhattan Assistant District Attorney Jordan Arnold told a judge.

Brooks, 24, son of "You Light Up My Life" writer Joseph Brooks, has been held without bail since his arrest. About a dozen members of Cachay's family converged on the Manhattan court for Brooks' brief appearance, during which he said nothing more than "not guilty" before being taken back to jail.

Cachay, 33, was found half-clothed and faceup in a tub at the Soho House, an elite club and hotel known for hosting celebrities. Brooks wasn't there when her body was found by hotel staffers who had been alerted after water started leaking through to the floor below. He returned and found police at the hotel, a move his lawyer says supports his innocence.

Brooks acknowledged to detectives that he and Cachay had been arguing, saying she had been upset with him after finding out he had a history of hiring escorts and she hadn't been satisfied with an apology letter he had written, the document shows. But Brooks said "it was not a big deal," according to the document, filed by prosecutors.

Prosecutors have said an apologetic letter from Brooks found in Cachay's purse showed he hadn't accepted that their relationship was ending.

They had rented a movie the evening of Dec. 8 and had sex in the apartment before Brooks gave Cachay an unspecified medication and went to take a shower, according to the account of his statements. He told police he stepped out of the shower and found the bed, where Cachay was sleeping, on fire, apparently ignited by candles near the headboard.

Brooks said he smothered the blaze, which had burned some of Cachay's hair, and they decided to go to the Soho House, the document said. He told police she fell repeatedly and stumbled into the hotel, so "pilled out" that Brooks checked in while a hotel staffer helped her up to the room at about 12:30 a.m. Dec. 9.

He was in and out of the room, drinking and snacking for a time in the hotel lounge, while she lay in bed, at one point telling him she planned to take a bath to wash her hair, according to the account of his statements. He eventually woke her up to tell her he was going out, then left for a bar with a man he met in the hotel lobby, he told police. The two spent some hours at the bar and the other man's apartment, drinking beer and using cocaine before Brooks went back to the hotel, Brooks told police.

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