Judge to decide whether Wisconsin parade suspect Darrell Brooks Jr. to be brought before the court

MADISON, Wis. A judge is set to decide on Friday whether a Milwaukee man accused of plowing his SUV through a Christmas parade, killing six people and injuring dozens more, will be convicted of murder.

Darrell Brooks Jr. to appear in Waukesha County Court before Judge Michael Bohren for a preliminary hearing. Such hearings, when the judge decides whether there is enough evidence to hold a defendant for trial, are usually a formality, but can shed light on defense and prosecution strategies.

According to the criminal complaint, Brooks drove his mother’s reddish-brown Ford Escape into the parade in downtown Waukesha on November 21. He continued despite police officers’ demands to stop, and some officers told investigators it looked like the driver was trying to hit people on purpose. and “citizen witnesses” who tell detectives that the SUV never slowed down.

Some of the people he hit flew up on the hood of the Escape; Brooks at one point had to lean out of the driver’s window to steer because a person had landed on the windshield, according to the complaint.

Six people were killed and dozens more injured. District Attorney Susan Opper charged Brooks with six counts of first-degree premeditated murder a few days later. He faces life in prison if convicted on just one charge. Opper this week added dozens of additional charges, including ruthless danger, hit-and-run involving deaths, bail jumps and battery.

A family visits a memorial in Veteran's Park for the victims of Sunday, November 21, 2021's deadly Christmas parade crash in Waukesha, Wis.
A family visits a memorial in Veteran’s Park for the victims of Sunday, November 21, 2021’s deadly Christmas parade crash in Waukesha, Wis.

Any possible motives remain unknown. Court documents filed Wednesday allege Brooks beat the mother of her child minutes before he drove into the parade because she refused to rescue him from jail after he was arrested for allegedly driving her over with the same vehicle earlier in November.

Brooks had been arrested in nearby Milwaukee County in the alleged previous incident. He walked out of jail on Nov. 19, two days before the parade, after bailing out $ 1,000.

Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm, a Democrat, has received intense criticism for his office recommending that bail be set so low for Brooks.

This undated image provided by the Waukesha County Sheriff's Department shows Darrell Brooks, Jr., the suspect in a Christmas parade crash.
Darrell Brooks, Jr., the suspect in a Christmas parade run.

Chisholm told county officials in December that the COVID-19 pandemic has led to a backlog of cases in his office. An evaluation of Brooks’ risk to society was never part of his office’s computer system and was unseen, Chisholm said, and a young, overworked assistant prosecutor recommended a $ 1,000 bail to him so she could move on to other cases.

A group of Milwaukee County taxpayers filed a complaint with Governor Tony Evers in December, demanding that he remove Chisholm from office. A lawyer hired by the Evers administration to review the complaint on Tuesday concluded that the complaint suffers from technical legal deficiencies and is not valid. Evers refused to take anything against Chisholm, a fellow Democrat.

Chisholm has been pushing for an end to cash bail, saying it is not fair to poor defendants. He wants a new system where only violent offenders are jailed until the trial.

Brooks’ case has pushed Republican lawmakers to introduce bills that would require a minimum guarantee of $ 10,000 for people who have previously committed a crime or violent offense. They would also require the Wisconsin Department of Justice to create a “bond transparency report” describing crime and bond issues.

Evers and Democratic Justice Minister Josh Kaul have said they will support stricter bail policies.

Bohren is no stranger to high-profile cases. He led the case against two Waukesha girls accused of stabbing their classmate in 2014 for pleasing a fictional horror character, Slender Man.


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