A Wisconsin man has been found guilty of murdering six people after he plowed his SUV through a Christmas paradeending an erratic week-long trial in which he yelled at the judge, took off his shirt and was often kicked out of the courtroom due to outbursts.
A Waukesha County jury on Wednesday found Darrell Brooks Jr. guilty on 76 counts, including six counts of first-degree intentional homicide and 61 counts of reckless endangerment.
As the verdict was read, Brooks bowed his head and remained silent. A man was kicked out of the gallery after shouting “burn in hell, you piece of shit”.
Authorities said he drove his vehicle in the Nov. 21 parade in downtown Waukesha despite police warnings to stop and officers opened fire on him, according to a criminal complaint.
Police say they were called in for an earlier domestic dispute involving Brooks and an ex-girlfriend. They said he fled that scene and went to the parade, intentionally targeting participants and spectators.
Six people, including an 8-year-old boy, were killed and more than 40 others were injured.
Brooks, 40 years old, initially pleaded not guilty due to mental illness, a decision that could have resulted in his being sentenced to a mental institution rather than prison. But he withdrew that plea in September, fired his public defenders and told Waukesha County Judge Jennifer Dorow he wanted represent oneself.
The trial began on October 3 but has seen constant disruption. On Monday, he was kicked out of the courtroom after arguing with the judge.
Brooks had unsuccessfully tried to have his case dismissed, citing a vehicle recall and hinting that mechanical issues might be to blame for what happened, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported. Dorow said earlier testimony showed no vehicle issues that contributed to the incident and denied his request to dismiss the case.
Earlier in the trial, he became so disruptive that Dorow had to call 10 recreations before eventually forcing him to watch the proceedings via video in another room.
At another time, Brooks was removed from the courtroom after interrupting the judge a dozen times. While in the room, he took off his prison uniform shirt, sat on the defense table with his back to the camera, and stuck a sign that read “objection” in his pants.
He then sought medical attention for a cut on his finger, a request Dorow said he had to wait until lunch break because there was no blood.
At other times, Brooks asked Dorow to show him proof that the state had jurisdiction over him, leading the judge and Brooks to yell at each other. Whenever someone addressed him by name, Brooks would say he didn’t recognize “Darrell Brooks”.
Almost every question prosecutors put to witnesses was met with an objection from Books. Often, he was heard muttering in a low voice that the trial was unfair and “mind blowing”. At one point, he called for the case to be dismissed, saying the state of Wisconsin could not physically testify and only “a living human brain” could sue.