MADISON, Wis. (AP) — A Wisconsin man accused of killing six people and injuring many others by driving an SUV into a Christmas parade last year clearly intended to kill people, prosecutors told jurors Tuesday.
Darrell Brooks faces 76 charges in the carnage last November in Waukesha, a Milwaukee suburb, including six counts of first-degree intentional homicide. He would face mandatory life in prison if convicted of any of the homicide counts.
Waukesha County District Attorney Susan Opper focused on Brooks’ intent during her closing arguments as Brooks’ monthlong trial wound down. His failure to stop after hitting the first person in the parade shows he intended to kill people, she said.
“Just stop driving. That’s it. It’s really that simple. Not one person had to be hurt that day if he would have just stopped driving,” Opper said. “He plowed through 68 different people. Sixty-eight. How can you hit one and keep going? How can you hit two and keep going? How can you hit three and keep going? It didn’t faze him a bit. He kept going until he got to the end and there were no more bodies to hit.”
She noted, too, that he abandoned the SUV at the end of the parade and tried to change his appearance by shedding his sweatshirt and sandals. She showed the jury several still photographs of Brooks behind the wheel of the SUV in the parade wearing the sweatshirt. She also noted police found the key to the SUV in his pocket.
She concluded her remarks by playing a video of what she said was “the carnage” Brooks caused in the parade.
The livestream The Associated Press has been using to view the trial proceedings did not pan to the video, but Judge Jennifer Dorow appeared to wince at one point while viewing it, and Deputy District Attorney Lesli Boese appeared to choke back tears.
Prosecutors allege Brooks got into a fight with his ex-girlfriend on the streets of Waukesha as the parade was starting Nov. 21, fled in his SUV and drove it into the parade.
In addition to the homicide counts, he faces 61 counts of reckless endangerment. Each homicide count carries a mandatory life sentence. Each reckless endangerment count carries a maximum sentence of 17 1/2 years in prison.
Brooks initially pleaded not guilty by reason of mental disease but withdrew the plea in September without explanation. Just days before his trial began Oct. 3, he dismissed his public defenders and elected to represent himself.
He has spent every day of the trial arguing with Dorow, refusing to recognize his own name and insisting the state has no jurisdiction over him. Multiple times, the judge has had bailiffs move him to another courtroom where he could watch the proceedings via video but she could mute his microphone when he became disruptive.
He watched and listened to Opper’s closings from the other room. He objection several times to her statements, arguing that she can’t know what his intent was. Dorow overruled him each time.