Man Who Killed 6 In Waukesha Christmas Parade Is Given Life Without Release – NPR -thats news

Brian Burns / November 15,2022
Man Who Killed 6 In Waukesha Christmas Parade Is Given Life Without Release – NPR

-thats news

A judge on Wednesday sentenced a man who killed six people and injured many others while driving his SUV in a Christmas parade in suburban Milwaukee to life in prison without the possibility of release, rejecting arguments by him and his family that mental illness led him to do that.

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

Each murder charge carried a mandatory life sentence, and the only uncertainty Wednesday was whether Dorow would allow Brooks to serve any part of those sentences with extended community supervision, the state’s current version of probation. she didn’t. Wisconsin doesn’t have the death penalty.

Man Who Killed 6 In Waukesha Christmas Parade Is Given Life Without Release – NPR</p>
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The gallery cheered when Dorow announced the life sentences. Moments later, she sentenced him to 762 years in prison on the endangerment charges.

“Frankly, Mr. Brooks, no one is safe from you,” Dorow said. “This community can only be safe if you are behind bars for the rest of your life… You left a path of destruction, chaos, death, injury and panic as you drove seven or more blocks through the Christmas parade.”

Dorow had bailiffs move Brooks to another courtroom where he could participate via video after he became disruptive during his pre-sentencing remarks. He stood still in his prison uniform and handcuffs as the judge announced the sentences.

Brooks’s victims demanded during a hearing Tuesday that Dorow give him the harshest possible sentence. Chris Owens, whose mother was among those killed, told Brooks: “All I ask is that you rot and rot slowly.”

Brooks drove his red Ford Escape during the parade in downtown Waukesha on November 21, 2021, after falling out with his ex-girlfriend. Six people were killed, including 8-year-old Jackson Sparks, who was marching with his baseball team, and three members of a group known as the Dancing Grannies. Dozens of people were injured.

On Wednesday, before the judge handed down his sentence, Brooks told the court that he had suffered from mental illness since he was young and did not plan to drive on the parade route. He also offered his first apology to the dozens of people who were injured or lost loved ones to him during the incident.

Brooks, who represented himself at trial, told Dorow in comments that rambled for two hours that he grew up fatherless, poor and starving in apartment buildings infested with rats and insects. Brooks said he has dealt with mental health issues for as long as he can remember and that he was physically abused, though he did not say by whom specifically. He sometimes took medication and spent brief stints in mental health facilities and life was better then, he said.

Waukesha County Circuit Court Judge Jennifer Dorow wipes away tears as she discusses the victims’ statements during her closing remarks before sentencing Darrell Brooks to six consecutive life sentences in a Waukesha County circuit court. Waukesha in Waukesha, Wisconsin on Wednesday, November 16, 2022.

Waukesha County Circuit Court Judge Jennifer Dorow wipes away tears as she discusses the victims’ statements during her closing remarks before sentencing Darrell Brooks to six consecutive life sentences in a Waukesha County circuit court. Waukesha in Waukesha, Wisconsin on Wednesday, November 16, 2022.

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

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

“I want you to know that I’m not just sorry about what happened, I’m sorry that you couldn’t see what’s really in my heart,” she said. “That you can’t see the remorse I have.”

But Brooks didn’t explain his motive or offer any other insight into what he was thinking as he drove the van to the parade. When Dorow asked him what prayer he thought he should receive, he did not answer directly, but said, “I just want you to help me.”

Brooks’s mother and grandmother tried to persuade Dorow to commit Brooks to a mental institution instead of a prison. His grandmother, Mary Edwards, said Brooks has been bipolar since he was 12 years old and that the disorder caused him to drive to the parade. His mother, Dawn Woods, pressured Dorow to make sure Brooks received prison treatment.

“If they have to stay away from society for the rest of their lives, at least they get the help they need to recover mentally,” Woods said.

Brooks appeared to cry as her mother spoke.

Dorow said before sentencing that he does not believe Brooks has a mental illness, noting that four psychologists who evaluated him earlier this year found that he suffers from antisocial personality disorder but not mental illness.

“It is my opinion that mental health issues did not lead him to do what he did on November 21, 2021 and, frankly, did not play a role,” the judge said Wednesday. “It’s very clear to me that he understands the difference between right and wrong and just chooses to ignore his conscience. He’s fueled by anger and rage.”

Dorow spent most of Tuesday listening to dozens of victims who demanded that Brooks get the maximum possible sentence. One by one, they described the frantic search for their children in the immediate aftermath, the pain their children have endured as they struggled to recover from their injuries, and the emptiness they feel coping with the loss of their dead loved ones.

District Attorney Susan Opper asked Dorow on Tuesday to make the sentences consecutive so that they stack up “just like he stacked up victims while driving down the highway,” with no possibility of release on extended supervision.

Brooks chose to represent himself during his month-long trial, which was marked by his erratic outbursts. He refused to respond to his own name, frequently interrupted Dorow, and often refused to stop talking. Several times, the judge had bailiffs move Brooks to another courtroom where he could participate via video, but she could mute his microphone when he became disruptive, just as she did Wednesday.

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