Darrell Brooks, 40, was convicted of all 76 charges against him for the November 2021 incident, which included six counts of first-degree homicide and 61 counts of reckless endangerment.
Each of the six homicide counts carries a mandatory sentence of life in prison. During the reading of the verdict, Brooks sat with his head in his hands.
According to the criminal complaint, Brooks drove through the crowd of parade-goers during the incident and “appeared to be intentionally moving side to side, striking multiple people, and bodies and objects were flying from the area of the vehicle.” A witness told police the car drove in a “zig-zag motion.”
“It was like the SUV was trying to avoid vehicles, not people,” the witness said. “There was no attempt made by the vehicle to stop, much less slow down.”
Despite the overwhelming amount of evidence against him, Brooks dismissed his public defenders and represented himself in court, often doing so in a bizarre manner.
Brooks initially pleaded not guilty on the basis of insanity, but withdrew the plea in September, according to court records, which state he “freely, voluntarily, and intelligently withdraws the [Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity] plea.” He did not explain why he did so, simply telling Waukesha County Circuit Court Judge Jennifer R. Dorow, “I have my own reasons why,” FOX6 reported.
Throughout the trial, Brooks was frequently disruptive — so much so that the judge reportedly had to call numerous recesses. He was eventually removed from the courtroom and made to watch the proceedings over video from a separate room. At times, he refused to answer to his name, claimed to be a “sovereign citizen” to whom laws do not apply, and even removed his shirt.
In his closing argument Tuesday, Brooks claimed the accusations against him were “misconceptions” and “lies,” CNN reported.
“What if the vehicle couldn’t stop because of malfunction? What if the driver of the vehicle was unable to stop the vehicle?” Brooks said. “Because of that fact, what if the driver may have panicked? Does that make the driver in a rage and intent on killing people?”
But Waukesha County District Attorney Susan Opper hit back against Brooks’s claims, urging the jury to focus on the evidence. “There are 68 victims in this case, folks. That’s not an accident,” she reportedly said.
“He reached speeds of approximately 30 mph,” Opper added. “That’s intentional. He plowed through 68 different people, 68. How can you hit one and keep going? How can you hit two and keep going?”
Brooks remained uncharacteristically silent during the verdict reading, raising his head only during the polling of the jury. Asked by the judge whether he was satisfied with the polling, Brooks placed his head back in his hands, quietly replying, “No.”