WAUKESHA, Wis. (TMJ4) — A Wisconsin jury found Darrell Brooks guilty of all six counts of 1st-degree intentional homicide for plowing an SUV through the Waukesha Christmas parade.
Brooks faced 76 charges, including six counts of first-degree intentional homicide and 61 counts of felony reckless endangerment.
Prosecutors argued Brooks turned his red SUV into the parade on Nov. 21, 2021, after fleeing a fight with his ex-girlfriend despite warnings from police to stop.
Brooks, 40, at first pleaded not guilty by reason of mental disease, which would have carried a sentence in a mental institution instead of prison. Just before the trial was about to begin, though, Brooks withdrew that plea, fired his public defenders and urged Waukesha County Judge Jennifer Dorow to let him represent himself in his own trial, which she allowed.
Brooks has a high school equivalency diploma. He does not have training as a trial lawyer.
During the state's case in the first two-and-a-half weeks of the trial, District Attorney Susan Opper called a number of parade attack witnesses and responding police officers to take the stand. They testified that it was Brooks behind the wheel when the red SUV crashed through the parade. The state's witnesses also described the SUV entering the parade route and hitting parade participants.
Brooks, meanwhile, spent much of his time in court objecting to the questions prosecutors asked witnesses. On a number of occasions, Brooks launched into hours-long cross-examinations in which he argued that the trial wasn't fair. He also claimed the judge was "making up the law." At one point, Brooks took his shirt off, and several times refused to recognize his name. Brooks was so disruptive on one day of the trial that the judge ordered deputies to remove him from the courtroom.
Prosecutors rested their case on Thursday, Oct. 20, after a police detective on the stand said that a rap video Brooks made shows him standing with the SUV used in the parade attack.
On the same day, Brooks gave his opening statement, which he started by saying that he doesn't have well-prepared remarks so he will be “speaking from the heart.” Brooks did not provide his version of the parade attack, how he would defend his innocence or show who would testify and support his narrative of events, according to The Associated Press.
"It’s easy to look at the magnitude of something like this and form opinions. I think it’s easy to disregard a lot of factors. It’s easy to forget the other side of the coin," Brooks said during his opening statement.
“It’s important that you see me for who I am. No mask. For who I am. This is the moment for that. I pray that your eyes and ears remain as open as possible," Brooks said.
At the end of his opening statement, Brooks broke into tears and bent over his desk.
During closing arguments, Waukesha County District Attorney Susan Opper argued that Brooks' failure to stop before hitting people in the parade shows he intended to kill them.
"Not one person had to be hurt that day if he would have just stopped driving. He plowed through 68 different people. Sixty-eight. How can you hit one and keep going? How can you hit two and keep going? How can you hit three and keep going? It didn’t faze him a bit. He kept going until he got to the end and there were no more bodies to hit," according to DA Opper.
This story was originally reported by Jackson Danbeck on tmj4.com.