Darrell Brooks is the man who drove his SUV into a Christmas parade in Waukesha, Wisconsin, on November 21, 2021, killing six people and injuring 62 others. He was convicted of 76 charges, including six counts of first-degree intentional homicide, and sentenced to six consecutive life sentences without the possibility of parole, plus an additional 762.5 years in prison. He is currently incarcerated at the Dodge Correctional Institution in Waupun, Wisconsin, where he is awaiting the resolution of other pending cases and potential appeals. He was also ordered to pay more than $500,000 in restitution to the parade victims.
The Waukesha Christmas Parade Attack
The attack occurred around 4:39 p.m. (CST) on a Sunday afternoon, when Brooks drove a red 2010 Ford Escape SUV past barricades and onto the parade route, moving at about 40 miles per hour (64 km/h). He hit dozens of people, including children, members of a dance troupe called the Dancing Grannies, and a marching band from Waukesha South High School. The parade was live-streamed and captured on videos posted to social media. Witnesses described hearing screams and seeing bodies flying in the air.
The victims who died were Virginia Sorenson, 79; LeAnna Owen, 71; Tamara Durand, 52; Jane Kulich, 52; Wilhelm Hospel, 81; and Jackson Sparks, 8. Many of the injured suffered serious and life-threatening injuries, such as broken bones, internal bleeding, organ damage, and brain trauma. Some of them required multiple surgeries and long-term rehabilitation.
The police arrested Brooks within minutes of the attack. He had a history of criminal offenses, including domestic violence, battery, drug possession, and bail jumping. He was out on a $1,000 bail at the time of the attack for allegedly running over his ex-girlfriend with the same SUV earlier that month.
Six life sentences and additional years in prison
Brooks pleaded not guilty to all charges and chose to represent himself at his trial, which began on October 3, 2022. He presented pseudolegal arguments from the sovereign citizen movement and was repeatedly removed from the courtroom for failing to comply with decorum and courtesy. On October 26, 2022, a jury found him guilty on all 76 charges.
On November 16, 2022, he was sentenced by Judge Jennifer Dorow to six consecutive life sentences without the possibility of parole for each count of first-degree intentional homicide. He also received 17.5 years for each of the 61 counts of first-degree recklessly endangering safety with the use of a dangerous weapon; five years for each of the six counts of hit and run causing death; six years for each of the two counts of felony bail jumping; and one year for one count of battery-domestic abuse. The sentences amounted to a total of 1,524 years in prison.
Prosecution requested harshest penalties
The prosecution requested the harshest penalties possible for Brooks, arguing that he showed no remorse or empathy for his actions and that he posed a grave danger to society. They also presented evidence that Brooks had been drinking alcohol and smoking marijuana before the attack and that he had searched online for information about fleeing the country.
The prosecution also played emotional statements from dozens of victims and their families during the sentencing hearing. They described the physical and psychological pain they endured as a result of the attack and how it shattered their lives and dreams. They also expressed their anger and disbelief at Brooks’ lack of remorse and accountability.
Brooks’ actions and impact on victims and community
Brooks made a two-hour statement before his sentencing, in which he claimed that he suffered from mental illness and that he did not intend to harm anyone. He also blamed the police for shooting at him and causing him to panic. He said he was sorry for what happened but also accused the victims of being racist and hateful.
Judge Dorow rejected Brooks’ claims and said that his actions were deliberate, malicious, and evil. She said that he understood the difference between right and wrong but chose to ignore his conscience. She also said that he was fueled by anger and rage and that he had no regard for human life.
Judge Dorow also addressed the impact of the attack on the victims and the community. She said that it was unlike anything she had ever seen in her career and that it left lasting scars on many people. She said that it robbed them of their sense of security, joy, and comfort during a festive occasion. She also said that it traumatized many children who witnessed or survived the attack.
Brooks’ Current Status
Brooks is currently incarcerated at the Dodge Correctional Institution in Waupun, Wisconsin, where he is awaiting the resolution of other pending cases and potential appeals.
Ordered to pay restitution to parade victims
As part of his sentencing, Brooks was ordered to pay $523,293.01 in restitution to the parade victims. The amount was based on the medical expenses, funeral costs, and property damage incurred by the victims. However, it is unlikely that Brooks will be able to pay the full amount, given his lack of income and assets.
Ongoing cases and potential appeals
Brooks still faces charges in Milwaukee County for allegedly running over his ex-girlfriend with the same SUV on November 2, 2021. He is charged with second-degree recklessly endangering safety, battery, disorderly conduct, and bail jumping. He is scheduled to appear in court on December 9, 2022.
Brooks has also begun the process of appealing his conviction and sentence in the parade attack. He filed a notice of intent to pursue postconviction relief on November 30, 2022. He has 60 days from the date of his sentencing to file a motion for a new trial or other relief. He can also appeal to higher courts if his motion is denied.
Plea deal for previous incident
Brooks had previously reached a plea deal with prosecutors for a 2020 incident in which he fired a gun at his nephew during an argument. He pleaded guilty to one count of recklessly endangering safety with the use of a dangerous weapon and was sentenced to three years of probation in July 2021. However, he violated the terms of his probation by committing new offenses and failing to report to his probation agent. His probation was revoked on November 23, 2021.
Darrell Brooks’ Sentencing
Brooks received one of the longest sentences ever imposed in Wisconsin history for his role in the parade attack. He will spend the rest of his life in prison without the possibility of parole or release.
Life in prison six times over
Wisconsin does not have the death penalty, so the maximum sentence for first-degree intentional homicide is life imprisonment without parole. Brooks received six such sentences, one for each person he killed in the attack. He also received additional years in prison for each person he injured and each crime he committed.
Judge Dorow said that she imposed the sentences consecutively, rather than concurrently, to reflect the gravity and magnitude of Brooks’ crimes and to hold him accountable for each individual victim. She said that she wanted to send a clear message that such acts of violence will not be tolerated and that justice will be served.
Judge’s ruling and reasoning
Judge Dorow explained her ruling and reasoning in a 32-page sentencing memorandum issued on November 16, 2022. She said that she considered several factors in determining Brooks’ sentence, such as his character, his criminal history, his mental health, the nature and circumstances of the offense, the harm caused to the victims and the community, and the need for deterrence and protection.
She said that she found no mitigating factors that would warrant a lesser sentence for Brooks. She said that he showed no genuine remorse or empathy for his actions and that he tried to shift the blame to others. She also said that he had a long history of criminal behavior and violence and that he posed a high risk of reoffending.
She said that she found several aggravating factors that justified a harsher sentence for Brooks. She said that he acted with extreme cruelty and disregard for human life and that he caused immense physical and emotional harm to many people. She also said that he committed the offense while on bail for another violent crime and that he attempted to flee from justice.
Brooks’ Future and Significance
The impact of the attack and sentencing on the community was profound. Many people expressed relief and gratitude that justice was served and that Brooks would never harm anyone again. They also praised the courage and resilience of the survivors and the first responders who helped them. They said they hoped the sentence would bring some closure and healing to those who suffered from the tragedy.
However, some people also raised questions about the possibility of parole or release for Brooks in the future. They pointed out that Wisconsin does not have a true life without parole sentence, and that Brooks could technically apply for parole after serving 20 years for each homicide count, or 120 years in total. They also noted that Brooks could appeal his conviction or sentence, or seek clemency from the governor. They urged lawmakers to change the law to ensure that Brooks would never get out of prison.
The most important thing, however, is to continue to honor and support the victims and their families who lost their loved ones or suffered physical and emotional injuries from the attack. They are the ones who need our compassion and solidarity in this difficult time. They are also the ones who inspire us with their strength and spirit in overcoming this horrific ordeal. They are the true heroes of this story.
Darrell Brooks is the man who committed one of the worst mass killings in Wisconsin history when he drove his SUV into a Christmas parade in Waukesha in 2021. He was convicted of 76 charges and sentenced to six consecutive life sentences without parole plus 762.5 years in prison in 2022. He is currently incarcerated at the Dodge Correctional Institution in Waupun, Wisconsin.
His motive remains unknown, but he showed no remorse for his actions and tried to use sovereign citizen arguments to defend himself at his trial.
His sentence was welcomed by many people as a just outcome that would prevent him from harming anyone else. However, some people also questioned the possibility of parole or release for him in the future and called for legal reforms to ensure that he would never get out of prison.
The most important thing, however, is to remember and support the victims and their families who were affected by this tragedy. They are the ones who deserve our respect and sympathy. They are also the ones who show us the meaning of comfort and joy in the face of adversity.