Darrell Brooks: Man who drove SUV into Waukesha Christmas parade found guilty of first-degree murder



CNN
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Darrell Brooks was found guilty Wednesday of six counts of first-degree intentional homicide for driving his SUV into a crowd of Christmas parade-goers in Waukesha, Wis., last November, killing six people and injuring dozens more.

He faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison for the convictions.

Brooks, 40, was also convicted of 61 counts of recklessly endangering safety with the use of a dangerous weapon, six counts of fatal hit and run, two counts of felony bail and one count of misdemeanor domestic battery β€” a clean slate for the prosecution.

Brooks looked down and rested his head on his hands as the guilty verdicts were read.

The lawsuit comes less than a year after a red SUV plowed through the crowd at Waukesha’s Christmas parade on Nov. 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 earlier in a domestic abuse case on $1,000 bail, which prosecutors later acknowledged was “inappropriately low.” In that case, he allegedly drove a woman who said she was the mother of his child, according to court documents.

Prosecutors said in closing arguments Tuesday that he intentionally drove through the crowd at significant speeds and struck 68 individual parade-goers, turning a joyous afternoon into a horrific one.

“He reached speeds of about 30 mph. That’s on purpose. 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 have to prove and I submit without a doubt that there is overwhelming evidence that this was a deliberate act by Darrell Brooks and an act of complete disregard for human life.”

In his own closing arguments, Brooks tried to raise questions about the vehicle and about his intent. He repeatedly said there had been “misunderstandings” and “lies” told about him during the trial.

“I’ve never heard of anyone intentionally trying to hurt someone while trying to blow their horn while trying to alert people of their presence,” Brooks said.

Jurors deliberated Tuesday night for almost two hours and then resumed Wednesday morning.

vehicle waukesha incident

Video shows SUVs crashing through parade barriers

His trial has been marked by his unusual decision to represent himself in court and his persistent disturbances and strange behaviour. Throughout the trial, he has talked over prosecutors and the judge, asking vague questions, challenging the court’s jurisdiction and declaring that “Darrell Brooks” is not his name.

Judge Jennifer Dorow has removed Brooks from court several times for his outbursts and placed him in a nearby courtroom, where he can communicate via a monitor and microphone, which are usually muted.

On Tuesday, after removing him from the prosecution’s closing arguments due to interruptions, she called him “stubbornly defiant.”

“He continues to disrespect the fact that a decision has been made and he wants to argue and re-argue and restate points that this court has already gone over,” she said.

Brooks previously pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity, but his public defenders withdrew his insanity plea in September. The attorneys later filed a motion to withdraw from the case, and the judge decided to allow Brooks to represent himself at trial.

Opper, the prosecuting attorney, told jurors not to be distracted in their deliberations by Brooks’ behavior during the trial.

“You must not, do not, consider anything about Darrell Brooks other than his behavior in downtown Waukesha on the evening of November 21, 2021,” Opper told the jury. β€œHe’s done nothing before that, nothing he’s done since. When you go back to that deliberation room, please obey Judge Dorow. Please limit your comments to his behavior on November 21st.”

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