Last November, Darrell Brooks drove his SUV into a crowd of Christmas parade attendees in Waukesha, Wisconsin, killing six people and injuring dozens more. Brooks was found guilty of first-degree intentional homicide on Wednesday.
Due to his convictions, he is facing a mandatory sentence of life in prison.
In addition to the 61 counts of recklessly endangering safety and the six counts of hit and run, Brooks, was also convicted of two counts of felony bail jumping and one count of misdemeanor domestic battery.
Throughout the trial, Brooks argued over the judge in inane and outlandish ways to make his point. He looked down and put his head on his hands as the stream of guilty verdicts were read out.
Several “Dancing Grannies” members and an 8-year-old boy were killed when a red SUV was driven into the crowd in Waukesha’s Christmas parade on November 21, 2013.
A domestic abuse case Brooks had been released from jail less than two weeks prior had carried a bail of $1,000, which prosecutors later acknowledged was excessively low. In that case, Brooks allegedly ran over a woman claiming to be his child’s mother.
According to the prosecution, he intentionally drove through the crowd at significant speeds and struck 68 parade-goers, turning a joyous afternoon into a horrific one.
“He reached speeds of approximately 30 mph. That’s intentional. He plowed through 68 different people. 68. How can you hit one and keep going? How can you hit two and keep going?” Waukesha County District Attorney Susan Opper said.
“His intent I do have to prove, and I submit without any doubt there’s overwhelming evidence that this was an intentional act by Darrell Brooks and an act of utter disregard for human life.”
It was in Brooks’ closing arguments that he raised questions about the vehicle and about his intent. He repeatedly stated during the trial that there had been “misconceptions” and “lies” about him.
“I’ve never known anyone to intentionally hurt someone while trying to alert people of their presence by blowing their horn,” Brooks said.
Deliberations began on Tuesday night and continued on Wednesday morning for just under two hours.
Videos and witness testimony in court detailed the disturbing sight of the SUV ramming through the parade route.
In an attempt to stop the SUV that just passed us, a spectator named Kyle Jewell said that the band had just passed us, a red SUV going maybe 30 or 40 mph, just went straight over the Waukesha South band. The car didn’t stop, it just went over … it looked like it went over a pretty big object, and then just kept going like a speed bump.
The first person struck by Brooks’ vehicle, Nicole White, testified she sustained injuries to her spine, tailbone, and right knee ligaments.
“I just remember being struck by the vehicle from behind on my back and then I fell to my knees and kind of rolled under the vehicle,” White said.
As well as his unusual decision to represent himself in court, Brooks has continuously disrupted the trial. He has spoken over prosecutors and the judge throughout the trial, asked vague questions, challenged the court’s jurisdiction and declared that “Darrell Brooks” is not his name.
In response to Brooks’ outbursts, Judge Dorow has repeatedly removed him from court and placed him in a nearby courtroom, where he can communicate via a monitor and microphone and was muted most of the time.
During the prosecution’s closing arguments on Tuesday, she removed him due to interruptions and called him “stubbornly defiant.”
“His argument and reargument and reargument continue not to respect the fact that a ruling has already been made,” she said.
Originally, Brooks pleaded not guilty by insanity, but his public defenders removed the insanity plea in September. The attorneys subsequently filed a motion to withdraw from the case, and the judge allowed Brooks to represent himself.
During her closing arguments, Opper urged jurors not to let Brooks’ conduct during the trial distract them from their deliberations.
“You must not, not, not consider anything else about Darrell Brooks other than his conduct in downtown Waukesha on November 21, 2021,” Opper told the jury.
“His conduct on November 21 is all that matters. Don’t comment on anything before that or since that. Please follow the instructions of Judge Dorow when you return to the deliberation room.”