Man who killed 6 in Waukesha Christmas parade sentenced to life in prison – NBC Chicago

A man who killed six people and injured scores as he drove his SUV through a Christmas parade in suburban Milwaukee was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of release on Wednesday.

Waukesha County Circuit Judge Jennifer Dorow sentenced Darrell Brooks Jr., 40, to 76 counts, including six counts of first-degree intentional homicide and 61 counts of reckless endangerment.

Each homicide count carried a mandatory life sentence, and the only uncertainty Wednesday was whether Dorow would allow Brooks to serve some of those sentences under extended community supervision, the current version of the release. conditional on the state. She does not have. Wisconsin does not have the death penalty.

On Tuesday, as Brooks’ victims made impact statements in court, nearly all of them pleaded with the judge for the harshest sentence possible. Chris Owens, whose mother was among those killed, told Brooks: “All I’m asking is that you rot, and you rot slowly.”

Brooks drove his red Ford Escape through the parade in downtown Waukesha on Nov. 21, 2021, after getting into a fight with his ex-girlfriend. Six people were killed, including an 8-year-old boy marching with his baseball team, as well as three members of a group known as the Dancing Grannies. Dozens of others were injured.

Before the judge handed down his sentence on Wednesday, Brooks told the court that he had suffered from mental illness since he was young and had no plans to go to the parade route. He also offered his first apologies to the dozens of people who were injured or lost loved ones in the incident.

Brooks told Dorow in remarks that lasted two hours that he grew up fatherless, poor and hungry in buildings infested with rats and bugs. Brooks said he has suffered from mental health issues for as long as he can remember and has been physically abused, although he did not specify by whom. Sometimes he took medication and had short stays in mental health facilities and life was better then, he said.

“People will, like I said, believe what they want, and that’s fine. It must be said: what happened on November 21, 2021 was not, not, not an attack. It wasn’t planned, plotted,” Brooks said, later adding, “It wasn’t an intentional act. No matter how many times you say it over and over again, it wasn’t.

Brooks also issued his first apology to the victims and their families.

“I want you to know that not only am I sorry for what happened, but I’m sorry you couldn’t see what’s really in my heart,” he said. “That you can’t see the remorse I have.”

But Brooks didn’t explain his motive or give any other information about what he was thinking about turning the SUV into a parade. When Dorow asked him what sentence he thought he should receive, he didn’t answer directly but said, “I just want to be helped.”

Brooks’ mother and grandmother tried to persuade Dorow to put Brooks in a mental institution instead of jail. His grandmother, Mary Edwards, said Brooks had been bipolar since he was 12, and the disorder prompted him to go to the parade. Her mother, Dawn Woods, pushed Dorow to make sure Brooks received treatment in prison.

“If they’re going to be away from society for the rest of their lives, they’re at least getting the help they need to recover mentally,” Woods said.

Brooks appeared to cry as her mother spoke.

Dorow spent most of Tuesday listening to dozens of victims asking Brooks to get the maximum possible sentence. One by one, they described the frantic search for their children immediately afterwards, the pain their children endured as they still struggle to recover from their injuries, and the emptiness they feel as they face the loss of their deceased loved ones.

District Attorney Susan Opper on Tuesday asked Dorow to make the sentences back-to-back so they stack “just like he stacked the victims while he was driving down the road,” with no chance of parole.

Brooks chose to represent himself during his month-long trial, which was punctuated by his erratic outbursts. He refused to answer his own name, frequently interrupted Dorow, and often refused to stop talking. On several occasions, the judge had ushers move Brooks to another courtroom where he could participate via video, but she could mute his microphone when he became disruptive.

Dorow had no choice but to allow Brooks to represent himself, noting that several psychologists found him competent.

Brooks apologized to Dorow for his antics on Wednesday, saying he was frustrated during the trial and she shouldn’t take it personally.

NBC Chicago

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