WAUKESHA, Wis. – The man who police say drove an SUV into a Christmas parade crowd in 2021 that killed six people will face trial from Monday on 71 counts.
Darrell Brooks Jr., 40, of Milwaukee, has been identified as the driver of the red SUV that drove through barricades and tore through crowds in downtown Waukesha on November 21, following a domestic incident with a woman with whom he had a relationship.
The trial is proceeding in Waukesha County Circuit Court and is expected to last until the end of October. The trial begins with jury selection, which can take up to three days.
Here’s what you need to know about the trial.
What is Darrell Brooks accused of?
Brooks faces 77 counts: six counts of first-degree intentional homicide with use of a dangerous weapon; 61 counts of recklessly endangering safety with the use of a dangerous weapon; six counts of hit and run causing death; and two counts of jumping bail, all felonies; and two misdemeanor counts of domestic violence.
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Brooks could face life in prison
On the intentional homicide charges, Brooks could face six consecutive life sentences.
If convicted on the 61 counts of recklessly endangering security, his consecutive prison sentence could total 762½ years, plus an additional 305 years for the modifier of using a dangerous weapon.
Who will testify?
Hundreds of people were nearby when the SUV hit at least 67 people along the parade route. Many of them recorded a video of the incident on their phones.
The exact number of people who will be called to the stand has not been shared publicly by Waukesha County District Attorney Sue Opper, but it could imply dozens. However, at a recent hearing, Opper said his list had been reduced by 75 witnesses.
Still, the list of potential witnesses was enough to keep the trial on the court docket for four weeks. While Opper had indicated she planned to present the state’s case in five to seven hearing days, things have changed since then, potentially slowing the pace.
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Brooks represents himself
In what Presiding Judge Jennifer Dorow called a move much later than the 11th hour, Brooks chose to waive his right to attorneys and decided to represent himself, his federal and state constitutional right.
His lack of detailed training in court rules and procedures could confuse and prolong the trial. He also mentioned that he had a separate list of witnesses to conduct his defense.
Brooks broke out once in late August after losing several key motion decisions, including one arguing to dismiss the case. He argued with Dorow at two hearings over his application to run again.
Dorow warned him that such outbursts could lead to him reprimanding him in front of the jury. She also warned Brooks that he would not be able to strategically delay the trial.
The judge told him it would be “difficult” but not impossible for him to add legal representation after the trial began. Brooks appeared to push that point during last week’s hearing.
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How to watch the trial
The trial will be broadcast live via the Wisconsin Court System stream from Dorow’s courtroom.
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Dorrow ruled that because this is a public trial, all victims and witnesses, except minors, will be fully recognizable on video when they take the stand. The jury selection process will not be broadcast live and audio recording is restricted.
Based on recent streams, it looks like Court TV is also planning to air a video of the trial. However, this video may not be constant and there has been no confirmation of Dorow’s endorsement.
Contact Jim Riccioli at (262) 446-6635 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jariccioli.