A man who plowed through a suburban Wisconsin Christmas parade, killing six people and injuring 62 others, has decided to be his own lawyer when his trial starts Monday.
Darrell Brooks is facing 77 charges for the Nov. 21, 2021, Waukesha Christmas parade rampage, including six counts of first-degree murder and 61 counts of felony reckless endangerment. He’s pleaded not guilty.
Each murder count comes with a mandatory life sentence. He’d originally been hit with 83 counts.
But Judge Jennifer Dorow’s decision to let Brooks, 40, act as his own lawyer has raised fears the accused criminal’s history of erratic and combative behavior will throw the courtroom into chaos.
Brooks had to be escorted out of court in August during a pre-trial hearing after going on a disruptive tirade.
The accused killer, who has an extensive criminal record, was arrested three weeks before the parade for allegedly punching the mother of his child in the face and then driving over her, leaving tire marks on her leg. He apparently used the same SUV in that attack as in the parade mayhem.
Brooks posted bail for the domestic incident two days before he allegedly killed six people in the Milwaukee suburb parade. He’s also wanted in Nevada for a sex crime, and has been charged with shooting at his nephew and another person in 2020, authorities said.
“I just feel like I’m being monster – demonized,” Brooks told Fox News following the 2021 attack.
His mother Dawn Woods wrote a letter after the parade carnage saying her son suffered from severe mental illness.
“So many like Darrell that have fallen through the cracks because of a broken system that no one cared to address, can get the help they so desperately need,” she wrote.
Judge Dorow said while it’s clear Brooks suffers from mental illness, he’s mentally fit and has the constitutional right to defend himself.
“This court has warned Mr. Brooks what he’s getting into,” the judge said, noting she reviewed his evaluations by four different psychologists.
“He can be a quiet dude,” Brooks’ Milwaukee neighbor Willie Bates told The Post last year. “But he can also be a bad dude.”
Brooks originally tried to get the case dismissed, pleading not guilty by reason of mental illness.
Brooks and the judge have clashed at court hearings ahead of the trial. Brooks has often interrupted the judge, who told him she’d likely have to admonish him in front of the jury if he misbehaves during the proceedings.
At one point during pre-trial hearings, Dorow snapped at Brooks, saying “stop playing games” as he laughed in court.
“It’s really going to be a challenging trial for the witnesses,” Wisconsin-based criminal defense attorney Tom Grieve said. “You have a defendant who feels like he has nothing to lose. He’s going to try to make as big a mess as possible and force a fumble by the prosecutors or judge and try to force a mistrial or build an appeal.”
Prosecutors have as many as 300 videos of the attack and a 32-page-long witness list, including the parents of 8-year-old Jackson Sparks, who was killed in the attack.
“There’s going to be no question in this jury’s mind what happened, who was driving, how these people were injured or killed,” District Attorney Susan Opper said in a court hearing last week.
Sharon Millard, who witnessed the gruesome death of her friend Virginia “Ginny” Sorenson, told The Post after the rampage that “no one ever saw [Brooks] coming.”
“He was going so fast. All I knew is I saw Ginny fly up in the air and land in front of me. I saw her curled up and blood was coming out of her like a river. I was standing in blood.”
Jury selection will begin Monday; the trial is expected to last at least a month.
With Post wires