Takeaways from Day 2 of Darrell Brooks’ Waukesha Christmas Parade trial

WAUKESHA – Darrell Brooks Jr. will face a jury starting Thursday as the testimony phase of his murder and reckless endangerment trial gets underway to try dozens of charges tied to the 2021 Waukesha Christmas Parade tragedy.

A jury of 12 members plus four alternates was selected late Tuesday from among the first 82 jurors interviewed from a pre-screened pool of more than 300 candidates.

The jury, consisting of six women and 10 men, was finally completed at 18.40

Brooks now faces 76 charges: six counts of first degree intentional homicide by use of a dangerous weapon, 61 counts of recklessly endangering safety by use of a dangerous weapon, six counts of hit-and-run with death and two counts of bail jumping, all felonies ; and one count of misdemeanor domestic battery.

The four-week trial — which Waukesha County Circuit Judge Jennifer Dorow said could run longer — is expected to involve dozens of witnesses, starting with those called by prosecutors after opening statements Thursday.

Wednesday was set aside for court-related “housekeeping” actions heading into Thursday’s more active casework. It will take an estimated four hours for CourtTV to set up.

Here’s what’s happened so far on Day 2 of the trial.

The final stages of jury selection had a twist

In a case that repeatedly stalled as Brooks battled Dorow over courtroom procedures and routines, the jury was not wrapped up in the typical fashion.

About eight people were beaten because of the case, either for hardships or because they said they didn’t think it could be fair.

When it got to the point where each side could exercise mandatory strikes, without a stated reason, Brooks tried to delete all the names from the list. Dorow stated that he had waived his right to the strikes. Whenever it was his turn to strike a juror, and he either tried to strike them all, didn’t want to strike anyone, the clerk picked a juror at random from a tumbler.

In the end, Brooks finally made his picks for his final two strikes. Each side got 10 to cut the panel from 36 to 16 – twelve plus four alternates.

Brooks spent the trial in the second courtroom.

Brooks was very disruptive again

Jury selection proceedings began Tuesday with him being moved to another courtroom, following a similar pattern that began Monday.

The trial was less than 10 minutes into the trial when Dorow told Brooks, who is acting as his own attorney, that he was again disruptive and would have to participate from another courtroom via video.

When Brooks had been removed, he was very demonstrative, standing and making a lot of hand and arm movements. His microphone was off.

More: Day 1 of Waukesha Christmas Parade Attack Trial: Defendant Darrell Brooks Jr. was repeatedly removed from the courtroom

Several jurors were brought in for questioning; some were struck by reason

Shortly after 9, Dorow brought in another 41 jurors for questioning. She, prosecutors and Brooks spent the next few hours hearing various members of the panel answer standard questions.

Around 11:30 a.m., Dorow announced she had concerns about six members of the panel, who she said had strong opinions on the case and could not be fair. Prosecutors and Brooks agreed they should fight the case.

Dorow also noted that Brooks had been paying attention and taking notes without the earlier histrionics. She asked him if he wanted to return to the courtroom this afternoon. Brooks gave a confusing answer, but again called for all 41 members of the panel to be struck. Dorow denied the request.

Brooks was removed often again

As was the case Monday, Dorow cited a 1970 U.S. Supreme Court case stating the legality of removing Brooks to a neighboring courtroom and allowing him to participate from there.

That didn’t stop Brooks from challenging Dorow’s actions, up to and including a motion to dismiss the case on the grounds of “judicial misconduct.”

Dorow based his decision on constant interruptions, usually with a final warning informing him that one more interruption would result in his removal. Despite the warning, he immediately cut her off again.

On both days, Dorow noted that Brooks’ interruptions came when she tried to list her findings regardless of what the court had discussed, something she said she would not tolerate.

She also attributed the disruptions to what she previously called “nonsensical” questions, such as asking Dorow to reveal his name, an approach associated with those who claim to be “sovereign” citizens not subject to the jurisdiction of courts or certain laws.

On two occasions, once Monday and again Tuesday morning, Brooks was invited back into the active courtroom to resume his seat at the defense table. He declined, stating that he would rather “stay put” in the vacant courtroom, despite contesting the validity of his removal.

Bruce Vielmetti of the Journal Sentinel staff contributed to this report.

Contact Bruce Vielmetti at (414) 224-2187 or bvielmetti@jrn.com. Follow him on Twitter at @ProofHearsay.

Contact Jim Riccioli at (262) 446-6635 or james.riccioli@jrn.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jariccioli.

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