Waukesha parade killer Darrell Brooks will stand trial for murdering six, a probable cause hearing has ruled – with the court also told shocking new details of his behavior after the attack.
Friday’s hearing in Waukesha County Court ruled prosecutors had presented ‘ample’ evidence that Brooks had deliberately mown down and killed six victims at the November 2021 Christmas parade.
The court also heard for the first time how Brooks had red-eyes and smelt of weed when he was arrested – and how he had struggled to look at photos of his victims’ remains shown to him by detectives.
Brooks’ attorney, public defender Anna Kees, argued that Brooks was high during the incident, noting that officers who arrested him noticed he smelled of marijuana and his eyes were red and glassy.
Darrell Brooks, 39, will face trial for murdering six at Christmas parade in Waukesha, Wisconsin
Prosecutors have presented ‘ample’ evidence to show probably committed felonies, Waukesha County Court Commissioner Kevin Costello said at the end of a preliminary hearing
Costello ordered him to appear for an arraignment on February 11 as he was led out of court
She maintained that he couldn’t turn off the parade route because the side streets were barricaded and full of spectators. She noted, too, that he told detectives that he didn’t mean to kill anyone and couldn’t bring himself to look when detectives showed him photos of the carnage.
Kees made the admissions about marijuana and Brooks’ inability to look at photos of the bloodbath he’d inflicted as evidence that he wasn’t of sound mind, but that he had shown remorse afterwards.
She also said that Brooks had continued to plow through the scene because each possible turn off from the main parade route had been lined with spectators watching the annual parade unfold.
But District Attorney Susan Opper countered that all Brooks had to do was stop the vehicle and even if he was high on marijuana he still committed multiple crimes.
Brooks sat quietly at the defense table in a red jail jumpsuit and surgical mask. He said nothing. Costello ordered him to appear for an arraignment on February 11, where Brooks can enter a plea. He remains jailed on a $5million cash bond.
He faces life in prison if convicted.
Darrel Brooks faces a total of 77 charges
He given an additional 71 charges on Wednesday for steering his vehicle through the parade while hanging out the window.
Brooks steered his Ford Escape for five blocks through the parade route in the Waukesha, Wisconsin, suburb of Milwaukee, on November 21, killing six people and injuring dozens more.
Authorities estimate that the SUV reached speeds of up to 25 mph and said some people landed on the hood, with Brooks carrying them along.
The criminal complaint also alleged that just before the tragedy, Brooks drove her ex-girlfriend around, steering with one hand and punching her in the face with the other because she didn’t post bail for him after he was arrested for running her over and breaking her leg.
Brooks’ ex-girlfriend told investigators that he broke her leg when he ran her over in early November.
He walked out of jail two days before the parade after his mother posted $1,000 bail.
Brooks’ ex-girlfriend told investigators that the day of the parade, she met Brooks at a Waukesha park and got into the SUV, where they argued about why she didn’t bail him out of jail.
He drove her around, steering with one hand and punching her in the face with the other, the complaint filed Wednesday said.
Minutes after she got out of the SUV, he drove drove into the parade, according to the complaint.
The ex-girlfriend added that the Escape originally belonged to Brooks’ mother but that he lived in the vehicle.
Footage shared online in November, showed some victims just seconds before Brooks plowed through the crowd, as horrified pedestrians tried to get out of the way
Prosecutors added dozens of charges Wednesday, January 12. Above, Darrell Brooks, center, is escorted out of the courtroom after making his initial appearance, Tuesday, November 23, 2021 (File photo)
Prosecutors suggested that Brooks plowed into the crowd fully aware that his actions would lead to the endangerment and possible death of multiple people.
‘All of the victims who were killed and most of the people that were injured were walking right down the middle of the road in plain view,’ the complaint said.
‘[The street] was clearly closed to traffic, there were barricades in place and police present to direct motorists for the entire length of the parade route.’
The Christmas parade tragedy was the latest in a series of violent crimes he is tied to going back 22 years and spanning across numerous states.
Prosecutors charged Brooks with six counts of homicide two days after the parade.
They added 71 new charges against him Wednesday, including 61 counts of recklessly endangering safety by use of a dangerous weapon for each person injured at the November 21 incident, along with the six homicide charges, according to court records filed on Wednesday.
The SUV was found around five blocks from where the parade carnage took place, parked in a driveway
Main Street in downtown Waukesha is seen blocked off with crime scene tape after a car plowed through a holiday parade in Waukesha, Wisconsin, U.S., November 22, 2021
Each charge carries a possible penalty of seven-and-a-half- years in prison. The first-degree homicide charges carry a mandatory life sentence if Brooks is convicted.
He also faces six counts of hit-and-run involving death, two counts of bail jumping and two counts of domestic abuse battery, according to court records.
Brooks is a registered sex offender and has been arrested more than 15 times in the state of Wisconsin alone for charges including possession of drugs, strangulation and suffocation, battery, illegally possessing firearms as a convicted felon and resisting arrest.
After he went through the parade, Brooks drove through a backyard, the complaint said. He abandoned the SUV and asked a homeowner to help him. Police captured him at that house.
Brooks’ attorney, public defender Jeremy Perri, didn’t respond to a message seeking comment.
Amy Mack lights candles at a memorial at Veterans Park for the victims of a deadly Christmas parade crash in Waukesha on November 23, 2021
On November 21, Brooks was filmed speeding in a red SUV as he slammed into Waukesha Christmas parade spectators and participants, killing Virginia Sorenson, 79, LeAnna Owen, 71, Tamara Durand, 52, Jane Kulich, 52, Wilhelm Hospel, 81, and Jackson Sparks, 8.
Four of the six people who were killed in the parade were with the Milwaukee Dancing Grannies float, including Sorenson, Owen, Durand and Wilhelm Hospel, the husband of one of the Grannies.
Brooks’ motive remains unknown.
He had been out on bail just before the hit-and-run, which had been set at $1,000, despite the fact that he’d been bailed twice in 2021 and has a lengthy criminal history stretching back to 1999 that includes a laundry list of offenses.
On November 5, weeks before the parade, Brook was charged with endangerment for allegedly running over the mother of his child with his SUV.
Brooks was assessed as a high risk to reoffend, but the prosecutor who handled his initial appearance still sought the $1,000 cash bail. He posted it on November 19.
The alleged killer said he has felt ‘demonized’ and ‘dehumanized’ by the court proceedings, but the mother of one of his children offered no sympathy.
‘It was a monstrous act and it’s completely irredeemable,’ the woman, who chose to remain anonymous, told Fox News in December. ‘I’m mortified and devastated and have lost sleep for days over this. Obviously, I wish it did not happen.’
The woman said her teenage son, who has not seen his father in more than a year, also felt heartbroken by the senseless attack.
She claimed that Brooks had a history of mental health issues and was on medication, and that her son only had irregular contact with him for the last decade.
According to court papers filed in Waukesha, Brooks owes his former partner $41,000 in back child support, but the woman says the $151 monthly payment Brooks is supposed to pay ‘isn’t going to make or break us.’
The Christmas parade began on November 21 at 4pm, with participants starting at Main Street and Whiterock Avenue. At 4.39pm, the red SUV was filmed speeding down Main Street. It then smashed into the crowd and sent bodies flying before speeding on towards the end of the parade, where the car broke through barriers
Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm has taken intense criticism for allowing his office to recommend Brooks’ bail be set at $1,000 in the domestic violence case.
Chisholm had said that was a mistake, made by an overworked assistant prosecutor, previously identified as Michelle Grasso, who never saw an evaluation of the dangers Brooks could pose to the community because the assessment was never entered into the district attorney’s office’s computer system.
A group of people who say they are Milwaukee County taxpayers had filed the complaint in December asking Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers to remove Chisholm to prevent similarly low bail recommendations in future cases involving violent offenders such as Brooks.
Milwaukee County Judicial Court Commissioner Cedric Cornwall was also criticized for approving the low bail amount.
Cornwall approved the low bond for Brooks during his arraignment for the alleged hit-and-run. Cornwall, who has served as commissioner since 2005, has a history of low bonds, Fox News reported.
On the same day he set the $1,000 bond for Brooks, he also set bail at $500 for a man accused of strangulation, battery and domestic violence. The day before he set bail at $1,000 for a woman charged with three felonies, including child abuse.
In 2006, the commissioner set bail at $100,00 for a foreign exchange student accused of a sex crime. Cornwall didn’t require the man to surrender his passport and he fled to China where he was later arrested on an unrelated charge and extradited back to the United States.
The six fatal victims of the Waukesha Christmas Parade killer
Darrell Brooks, 39, now faces 61 counts of recklessly endangering safety by use of a dangerous weapon for each person injured at the November 21 incident, along with the six homicide charges, according to court records filed on Wednesday.
He is accused of plowing through the crowd at the parade on November 21, killing six and injuring dozen others.
The fatal victims were Virginia Sorenson, 79, LeAnna Owen, 71, Tamara Durand, 52, Jane Kulich, 52, Wilhelm Hospel, 81, and Jackson Sparks, 8.
Four of the five people who were killed were members of the Milwaukee Dancing Grannies.
Brooks’ motive remains unknown.
Jane Kulich was a Citizen Bank employee who was walking with a parade float before she was fatally struck. The sixth victim of the tragedy was Jackson Sparks, 8
Tamara Durand (left), 52, and Leana ‘Lee’ Owen (right), 71, were two members of the Milwaukee Dancing Grannies
Virginia Sorenson (left), 79, was a nurse and member of the Milwaukee Dancing Grannies, a group of elderly woman marching in the parade. Wilhelm Hospel (right), 82, the husband of one of the grannies, died from internal bleeding