Darrell Brooks was found guilty of six counts of first-degree intentional homicide on Wednesday for driving his SUV into a crowd of Christmas parade attendees in Waukesha, Wisconsin, last November, killing six people and injuring dozens. others.
He faces a mandatory life sentence for the convictions.
Brooks, 40, was also found guilty of 61 counts of recklessly endangering security with the use of a dangerous weapon, six counts of fatal hit and run, two counts of jumping bail for felony and one misdemeanor count of domestic battery – a clean sweep for the prosecution.
Brooks represented himself in court and was combative throughout the trial, repeatedly talking to the judge to make nonsensical and outlandish arguments. Yet as the stream of guilty verdicts were read on Wednesday, he looked down, rested his head on his hands and sat in silence.
The lawsuit comes less than a year after he drove a red SUV through a crowd at the Waukesha Christmas Parade on November 21, killing an 8-year-old boy and several members of the “Dancing Grannies” group.
Brooks had been released from jail less than two weeks prior in a domestic abuse case, on a $1,000 bond that prosecutors later acknowledged was “inappropriate.” In that case, he allegedly knocked down a woman who said she was the mother of his child, according to court documents.
Prosecutors said in closing arguments on Tuesday that he intentionally drove through the crowd at significant speeds and struck 68 individual spectators, turning a joyous afternoon into a horrible one.
“It hit speeds of around 30 mph. It’s intentional. It went through 68 different people. 68. How can you hit one and keep going? How can you hit two and keep going? the prosecutor said of Waukesha County, Susan Opper.
“I have to prove his intent, and I submit without a doubt that there is overwhelming evidence that this was an intentional act by Darrell Brooks and an act of utter disregard for human life.”
In his own closing arguments, Brooks attempted to raise questions about the vehicle and its intent. He has repeatedly said there were “misconceptions” and “lies” about him during the trial.
“I’ve never heard of anyone intentionally trying to hurt someone by trying to blow their horn while trying to alert people to their presence,” Brooks said.
The jurors deliberated Tuesday evening for just under two hours and then resumed Wednesday morning.
Attack suspect takes off shirt during trial and clashes with judge
In court, a series of videos and witnesses detailed the disturbing sightings of the SUV driving through the parade route.
“The group had just passed us, a red SUV … going maybe 30, 40 miles per hour, just went straight at the Waukesha South (high school) group,” said Kyle Jewell, a spectator who tried unsuccessfully to catch up with the SUV. to stop him. “And it’s not like it stopped, it just passed…it looked like it went up in the air, like on top of a pretty big object, and it was like a big speed bump and he kept going.”
Nicole White, who prosecutors say was the first person hit by Brooks’ vehicle, said she suffered spinal and tailbone injuries and suffered ligament damage in her right knee.
“I just remember being hit by the vehicle from behind on my back and then I fell to my knees and rolled under the vehicle,” White said.
Brooks’ trial was marked by his unusual decision to represent himself in court and his ongoing disturbances. Throughout the trial, he spoke to prosecutors and the judge, asked vague questions, challenged the court’s jurisdiction and said “Darrell Brooks” was not his name.
Judge Jennifer Dorow repeatedly removed Brooks from court for his outbursts and placed him in a nearby courtroom, where he can communicate via a monitor and microphone that are mostly muted.
On Tuesday, after dismissing him for the prosecution’s closing arguments due to interruptions, she called him “stubbornly provocative”.
“He continues to disrespect the fact that a decision has been made, and he wants to argue and re-state and re-state points that this court has already considered,” she said.
Brooks previously pleaded not guilty to insanity, but his public defenders withdrew the insanity plea in September. The attorneys then filed a motion to withdraw from the case, and the judge decided to allow Brooks to represent himself at trial.
Opper, the prosecutor, told jurors in his closing arguments not to be distracted in their deliberations by Brooks’ conduct during the trial.
“You must not, consider anything about Darrell Brooks other than his driving in downtown Waukesha on the evening of November 21, 2021,” Opper told the jury. “Nothing he’s done before, nothing he’s done since. When you return to this deliberation room, please obey Judge Dorow. Limit your comments to his conduct on November 21.
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