Darrell Brooks was sentenced to life in prison on Wednesday without the possibility of extended supervision for driving his SUV into a crowd of attendees at the Christmas parade in Waukesha, Wisconsin, last November, killing six people and injuring dozens more.
Brooks, 40, was found guilty last month by a jury of all 76 charges stemming from the 2021 Christmas parade attack, including six counts of first-degree intentional homicide involving the use of a dangerous weapon.
On Wednesday, after two days of impassioned testimony from victims and family members, Judge Jennifer Dorow imposed the statutory sentence and sentenced Brooks to life in prison without the possibility of extended supervision for each of the six counts of first-degree intentional homicide. guess. the use of a dangerous weapon. The sentences will run consecutively, according to the judge.
“You have absolutely no regrets about anything you do. You have no empathy for anyone,” Dorow told Brooks. “Honestly, Mr. Brooks, no one is safe from you,” she continued.
Brooks spoke for more than two hours on Wednesday afternoon and told the court that he, too, is struggling to understand why this tragic incident happened.
“That’s a question I struggle with myself,” Brooks said. “The why, the how. How could life ever be so far from what it should be? Regardless of what many people think about me, about who I am, about my family, about my beliefs, I know who I am. God knows who I am. And I have no words of anger,” he continued.
During his remarks, Brooks, representing himself, only once apologized to the victims and the community of Waukesha, saying no one can see the remorse he feels.
“I want you to know that not only am I sorry for what happened, but you couldn’t see what’s really in my heart. That you can’t see the remorse that I have,” Brooks told the court. “That you can’t count all the tears I’ve shed this year.”
Dorow also spoke at length about Brooks’ mental health, a topic his relatives spoke about at the hearing.
“In my opinion, mental health issues didn’t drive him to do what he did on November 21, 2021. And frankly, they didn’t matter,” the judge said, citing passages and opinions from four Brooks mental health assessments from doctors.
Prosecutors asked the judge Tuesday to sentence Brooks to the maximum sentence for all convictions stemming from the assault.
“He deserves the absolute maximum sentence on all counts, sequentially,” Waukesha County District Attorney Susan Opper told the judge.
“You’ve seen the videos. This was not him plowing on a large group of fifty people all at once and beating them. It was linear. He hit one, kept going. Hit two, continued. Hit three, continued. Right down the street. Those are consecutive sentences, Your Honor. That’s intentional, intentional, voluntary behavior that justifies piling up successive punishments, just as he piled up victims as he drove down the road with complete disregard for any other person,” Opper continued.
The jury also found Brooks guilty of 61 counts of recklessly endangering safety with the use of a dangerous weapon, six counts of fatal assault, two counts of bail bond, and one count of domestic violence.
Victims and their loved ones were given the opportunity on Tuesday to speak about what they have lost and endured.
Among the more than 40 people who gave statements in court were family members of Virginia Sorenson, part of the Milwaukee Dancing Grannies group that lost three of its members in the attack, WTMJ reported.
“I will continue to struggle with the loss,” said David, Sorenson’s husband. “I’m lucky that my family takes care of me and wraps me in love so I can glue together the shattered life I have now.”
While some of the victims addressing the court said they were willing to forgive the killer, Sorenson told the judge, “I ask that you send this vicious animal to prison for life with no chance of parole for the brutal murder of my wife” , WTMJ reported.
Dancing grannies talk about their love for what they do months before the parade’s tragedy
– Source: CNN
Alisha Kulich, the daughter of 52-year-old Jane Kulich, who was killed while attending the parade, lamented that her mother will miss so many milestones in her and her siblings’ lives — and Jane Kulich’s grandchildren — it reported. station.
“She won’t see me say my vows or marry the love of my life,” said Alisha Kulich. “And she’ll never see my future children, and they won’t know what it’s like to have a grandma who spoils them.”
In addition to Sorenson and Kulich, Jackson Sparks, 8, Tamara Durand, 52, Lee Owen, 71, and Wilhelm Hospel, 81, were killed. Sparks walked with his baseball team during the parade. Durand and Owen were dancing grannies, along with Sorenson, and Hospel was the husband of a dancing granny who survived the attack.
Prosecutors provided evidence showing that Brooks deliberately drove through the crowd. In an indictment, an officer who stepped in front of Brooks’ vehicle and ordered him to pull over said that Brooks “looked straight at him and it looked like he had no emotion on his face.”
The SUV passed the officer and accelerated, stopped at an intersection, then accelerated again — tires screeching — and began to zigzag as “bodies and objects” flew, the indictment said, adding another witness said Brooks tried to avoid vehicles before . than humans, and made no attempt to slow down.
In a tearful closing argument, Brooks posed what the reaction would be if the car malfunctioned and couldn’t stop and panicked the driver. He claimed there was a recall on the vehicle he was driving, but Dorow removed the comments from the file.
“He reached speeds of about 30 miles per hour. That’s on purpose,” he said. “He plowed through 68 different people. Sixty-eight. How can you hit one and keep going? How can you hit two and keep going?
A jury also returned guilty verdicts on 61 counts of reckless endangerment of safety with the use of a dangerous weapon, six counts of fatal assault, two counts of misdemeanor bail and one count of domestic violence. It was a clean slate for the prosecution.
In June, Brooks entered a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity, but his public defenders withdrew it in September. They then backed out of representing Brooks, and Dorow allowed Brooks to represent himself.
He was belligerent and disruptive during the trial, often talking over Dorow to make bizarre arguments. Dorow sometimes placed Brooks in a separate room, where he could participate through a monitor and the sound was muted unless it was his turn to speak. Brooks was sent to that room twice on Wednesday after talking about the judge demanding he quit.
SUV attacks fanfare during holiday parade in Wisconsin
Brooks’ mother, Dawn Woods, expressed concern that her son was unable to defend himself and asked the judge not to allow it, WTMJ reported.
“He’s not mentally stable enough to fully understand the huge mistake he’s making in wanting to represent himself,” she said, according to WTMJ. “That alone should be enough to see that he is incapable of being his own advocate.”
Brooks had been charged with domestic violence and was released on $1,000 bail less than two weeks before the parade. According to court documents, he allegedly hit a woman claiming to be the mother of his child. Prosecutors later acknowledged that the bail amount was “inappropriately low”.