Darrell Brooks sentenced to life in prison for 2021 Waukesha Christmas parade attack


Darrell Brooks was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of extended supervision Wednesday for driving his SUV into a crowd of Christmas parade goers in Waukesha, Wisconsin, last November. killing six people and injuring dozens of others.

Brooks, 40, was found guilty by a jury last month of all 76 charges stemming from the 2021 Christmas parade attack, including six counts of first-degree murder with a dangerous weapon.

On Wednesday, after two days of impassioned statements from victims and family members, Judge Jennifer Dorrow imposed the statutory sentence, ordering Brooks to serve life without the possibility of extended supervision on each of the six counts of first-degree murder with a dangerous weapon . The sentences will run consecutively, the judge said.

“You have absolutely no remorse for anything you do. You have no empathy for anybody,” Darrow told Brooks. “Frankly, Mr. Brooks, no one is safe from you,” she continued.

Brooks spoke for more than two hours Wednesday afternoon, telling the court that he too is struggling to understand why this tragic incident happened.

“It’s a question I struggle with,” Brooks said. “Why, how. How can life get 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 for anger,” he continued.

During his remarks, Brooks, who represented himself, apologized only once to the victims and the Waukesha community, saying no one could see the remorse he felt.

“I want you to know that I’m not only sorry for what happened, I’m sorry that you didn’t get to see what was really in my heart. That you can’t see the remorse I feel,” Brooks told the court. “That you can’t count all the tears I’ve shed this year.”

Dorrow also spoke at length about Brooks’ mental health, a topic his family members spoke about during the hearing.

“It is my view that mental health issues did not cause him to do what he did on November 21, 2021. And frankly they did not play a role,” the judge said, citing passages and opinions from four mental health evaluations of Brooks by doctors.

Prosecutors asked the judge Tuesday to sentence Brooks to the maximum sentence for all convictions stemming from the attack.

“He deserves the absolute maximum sentence on all counts, consecutive,” Waukesha County District Attorney Susan Opper told the judge.

“You saw the videos. This wasn’t him charging into a large group of fifty people at once and hitting them. It was linear. Hit one, move on. I hit two, moved on. Hit three, continue. All the way down the street. Those are run-on sentences, Your Honor. This is deliberate, willful, volitional behavior that warrants consecutive sentences stacked one on top of the other, just as he stacked victims as he drove down the road in complete disregard for every other person,” Opper continued.

The victims and their loved ones were given the opportunity to speak on Tuesday about what they lost and what they experienced.

Among the more than 40 people who gave statements in court were relatives of Virginia Sorenson, part of Dancing Grannies of Milwaukee which lost three of its members in the attack, WTMJ reported.

“I will continue to deal with the loss,” said Sorenson’s husband, David. “I’m lucky to have a family that cares for me and surrounds me with love so that I can begin to piece together the broken life that I have now.”

While some victims, addressing the court, said they were ready to forgive the killer, Sorenson told the judge: “I am asking you to send this evil animal to life in prison without the chance of parole for the callous murder of my wife.” WTMJ reported.

Dancing grannies talk about loving what they do months before the parade’s tragedy

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– Source: CNN

Alicia Kulich, the daughter of 52-year-old Jane Kulich, who was killed while attending the parade, lamented that her mother will miss out on so many important moments in her life and the lives of her siblings — and Jane Kulich’s grandchildren — reports the station.

“She won’t be able to see me say my vows or marry the love of my life,” Alicia Kulich said. “And she’ll never get to see my future children, and they won’t know what it’s like to have a grandmother to pamper them.”

Darrell Brooks sentenced to life in prison for 2021 Waukesha Christmas parade attack

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 grandmothers, along with Sorenson, and Hospel was the husband of a dancing grandmother who survived the attack.

Prosecutors presented evidence showing Brooks intentionally drove through the crowd. In a criminal complainta police officer who stood in front of Brooks’ vehicle, ordering him to stop, said that Brooks looked him “right at him and he didn’t seem to have any emotion on his face.”

The SUV passed the officer and accelerated, stopped at an intersection, then accelerated again — tires screeching — and began zig-zagging as “bodies and objects flew,” the complaint said, adding that another witness said Brooks he was trying to avoid vehicles rather than people and made no attempt to slow down.

In a tearful closing speech, Brooks guessed what the reaction would be if the car broke down and couldn’t stop and the driver panicked. He claimed there was a vehicle he was driving that was pulled over, but Dorrow expunged the remarks from the record.

“It reached a speed of about 30 miles per hour. This is intentional,” the district attorney said. “He suffered 68 different people. Sixty eight. How can you hit one and move on? How can you strike two and keep going?’

Jurors also returned guilty verdicts on 61 counts of recklessly endangering safety with the use of a dangerous weapon, six counts of deadly hit and run, two counts of bail felony and one count of criminal mischief. It was a clean sweep for the prosecution.

In June, Brooks pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity, but his public defenders withdrew it in September. They then backed out of presenting Brooks and Dorrow allowed Brooks to represent himself.

He was belligerent and disruptive during the trial, often speaking for Darrow to make strange arguments. Dorrow sometimes put Brooks in a separate room where he could participate via a monitor and was silenced unless it was his turn to speak. Brooks was sent to that room twice Wednesday after negotiating with the judge as she insisted he stop.

waukesha parade suv marching band angela o'boyle chen

SUV hits marching band during Wisconsin holiday parade

Brooks’ mother, Dawn Woods, expressed concern that her son was unable to defend himself and asked the judge not to allow that, WTMJ reported.

“He’s not mentally stable enough to fully understand the big 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 lawyer.”

Brooks was charged in a domestic violence case and was released from jail on $1,000 bond less than two weeks before the parade. He was accused of running over a woman who claimed to be the mother of his child, according to court documents. Prosecutors later admitted the bail set was “inappropriately low”.

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