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Darrell Brooks guilty of all charges in Waukesha Christmas parade attack

(CBS/AP) — A Wisconsin jury found Darrell Brooks guilty Wednesday of killing six people and injuring dozens of others by driving his SUV through a Christmas parade in Waukesha last year.

Brooks faced a total 76 charges in connection with the attack, including six counts of intentional first-degree homicide. He faces a mandatory life sentence on each homicide count, although a formal sentencing hearing has yet to be scheduled. Victims and their families are expected to make statements at Brooks’ sentencing hearing.

The jury got the case Tuesday and deliberated for a total of 3 hours and 15 minutes into Wednesday morning before announcing the verdict.  

Brooks, dressed in a suit and tie, silently rested his head on folded hands as the verdicts were read. His subdued demeanor was a stark departure from previous days of the trial, when his sometimes-outrageous behavior drew rebukes from the judge.

Brooks represented himself at what has been a chaotic trial, spending every day of the trial arguing with Judge Jennifer Dorow, refusing to recognize his own name, and insisting the state has no jurisdiction over him. Multiple times, the judge has had bailiffs move him to another courtroom where he could watch the proceedings via video but she could mute his microphone when he became disruptive. Before opening statements in the trial, while watching from another room, Brooks removed his shirt, sat with his back to the camera and stuck a sign he’d been given to signal objections down his pants

Brooks initially pleaded not guilty by reason of mental disease but withdrew the plea in September without explanation. Just days before his trial began Oct. 3, he dismissed his public defenders and elected to represent himself.

In closing arguments on Tuesday, Waukesha County District Attorney Susan Opper said Brooks’ failure to stop after hitting the first person in the parade shows he intended to kill people, she said.

“Just stop driving. That’s it. It’s really that simple. Not one person had to be hurt that day if he would have just stopped driving,” Opper 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? How can you hit three and keep going? It didn’t faze him a bit. He kept going until he got to the end and there were no more bodies to hit.”

She concluded her remarks by playing a video of what she said was “the carnage” Brooks caused in the parade.

The livestream The Associated Press has been using to view the trial proceedings did not pan to the video, but Judge Dorow appeared to wince at one point while viewing it, and Deputy District Attorney Lesli Boese appeared to choke back tears.

Brooks tried to argue that the SUV had been recalled due to a throttle malfunction. After Opper objected — a Wisconsin State Patrol vehicle inspector testified earlier in the trial that the vehicle was in good working order, including the brakes — he suggested the driver might have panicked. He noted that some witnesses testified they heard the SUV’s horn honking.

He didn’t quite acknowledge he was the driver but said that at night when he’s alone in his cell he often asks questions how “this” happened. But he has never asked himself if “this” was intentional because he knows it wasn’t. He didn’t explain what he was referring to with the word “this.”

“Throughout this year I’ve been called a lot of things,” Brooks said. “And to be fair I am a lot of things. A murderer is not one of them.”

“You need to look in the mirror, Mr. Brooks,” Opper said during her rebuttal. “Your actions are that of a murderer. “

Prosecutors allege Brooks got into a fight with his ex-girlfriend on the streets of Waukesha as the parade was starting Nov. 21, fled in his SUV and drove it into the parade. Opper told the jury that she doesn’t know why Brooks entered the parade other than he was enraged.


Source: CBS Minnesota

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