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Waukesha Christmas Parade suspect to stand trial for murder – NBC Chicago

A Milwaukee man accused of killing six people and injuring dozens more while driving an SUV in a suburban Christmas parade is to stand trial, a court commissioner ordered Friday.

Prosecutors presented “abundant” evidence to show Darrell Brooks Jr. likely committed crimes, Waukesha County Court Commissioner Kevin Costello said at the end of a preliminary hearing. It is the point in the criminal justice process where court officials decide if there is enough evidence to bind the defendants at trial.

Brooks faces 77 counts in total, including six counts of homicide and several counts of reckless endangerment. He would face mandatory life in prison if convicted of just one of the homicide charges.

District Attorney Susan Opper called only one witness, Detective Inspector Thomas Casey. He testified that he and other officers yelled at Brooks to stop as he drove the SUV through the parade in downtown Waukesha on November 21.

He described how the vehicle zigzagged down the street for blocks, hitting walkers from behind and knocking them over. He said Brooks injured 61 people, including the six people he killed.

Brooks’ attorney, public defender Anna Kees, argued that Brooks was stoned during the incident, noting that arresting officers noticed he smelled like marijuana and his eyes were red and glassy.

She maintained that he could not turn off the parade route because the side streets were barricaded and full of onlookers. She also noted that he told detectives he didn’t want to kill anyone and couldn’t bring himself to watch when detectives showed him pictures of the carnage.

Opper countered that all Brooks had to do was stop the vehicle and even though he was high on marijuana, he still committed multiple crimes.

Brooks sat quietly at the defense table in a red prison jumpsuit and surgical mask. He does not say anything. Costello ordered him to appear for arraignment on Feb. 11. That’s when Brooks will enter a plea. He remains jailed on $5 million cash bond.

All possible motives remain unclear. The complaint alleges that Brooks beat the mother of his child minutes before heading to the parade because she refused to bail him out after he was arrested for allegedly hitting her with the same vehicle earlier in November.

Brooks had been arrested in neighboring Milwaukee County in this alleged earlier incident. He was released from prison on November 19, two days before the parade, after posting $ 1,000 bail.

Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm, a Democrat, sharply criticized his office in recommending that the bail be set so low for Brooks.

Chisholm told county officials in December that the COVID-19 pandemic had resulted in a backlog of cases in his office. An assessment of the risk that Brooks posed to the community was never integrated into his office computer system and was not seen, Chisholm said, and an overworked young deputy prosecutor recommended him $ 1,000 bail in order. that she can move on to other business.

A Milwaukee County taxpayer group lodged a complaint with Governor Tony Evers in December, demanding that he remove Chisholm from office. A lawyer hired by the Evers administration to review the complaint concluded on Tuesday that the complaint suffers from technical and legal loopholes and is invalid. Evers refused to take action against Chisholm, a fellow Democrat.

Chisholm has been pushing to end the cash bond, saying it’s not fair to poor defendants. He wants a new system in which only violent offenders are jailed until their trial.

NBC Chicago

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