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Wisconsin man found guilty of killing 6 people after plowing SUV into Christmas parade

Darrell Brooks Jr. was charged with dozens of crimes in the Waukesha tragedy, including six counts of first-degree intentional homicide and 61 counts of reckless endangerment.

A Wisconsin man was convicted of killing six people after he plowed his SUV through a Christmas parade, ending an erratic weekslong trial during which he shouted at the judge, stripped off his shirt and was often removed from the courtroom over outbursts.

A Waukesha County jury on Wednesday found Darrell Brooks Jr. guilty on all 76 charges, which included six counts of first-degree intentional homicide and 61 counts of reckless endangerment.

As the verdict was read, Brooks held his head down and remained silent. One man was removed from the gallery after he yelled out, "Burn in hell, you piece of s---."

Darrell Brooks looks to the prosecuting attorneys during his trial in a Waukesha County Circuit Court in Waukesha, Wis., on Oct. 18, 2022.
Darrell Brooks looks to the prosecuting attorneys during his trial in Waukesha County Circuit Court in Waukesha, Wis., on Oct. 18.Mike De Sisti / Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel via AP, Pool

After the verdict was read, Waukesha County Judge Jennifer Dorow said there would be a hearing Monday to discuss setting a sentencing date. Brooks faces a mandatory life sentence on each homicide count.

Authorities said he drove his vehicle into the Nov. 21 parade in downtown Waukesha despite police warnings to stop and officers opening fire on him, a criminal complaint stated.

Police said that they had been called to an earlier domestic disturbance involving Brooks and an ex-girlfriend. They said he fled that scene and drove into the parade, intentionally targeting participants and paradegoers.

Six people, including an 8-year-old boy, were killed and more than 40 others were injured.

Brooks, 40, initially pleaded not guilty by reason of mental disease, a move that could have resulted in him being sentenced to a mental institution rather than prison. But he withdrew that plea in September, dismissed his public defenders and told Dorow that he wanted to represent himself.

The trial began Oct. 3 but had constant disruptions. On Monday, he was removed from the courtroom after he got into an argument with the judge.

Brooks had tried unsuccessfully to have his case dismissed, citing a vehicle recall and implying that mechanical issues could be to blame for what happened, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported. Dorow said that earlier testimony showed no vehicle issues that would have 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 recesses before ultimately forcing him to watch the proceedings via video in another room.

At another point, Brooks was removed from the courtroom after he interrupted the judge about a dozen times. While in the room, he took off his jail uniform shirt, sat on the defense table with his back to the camera and stuck a sign that read "objection" down his pants.

He then demanded medical attention for a cut on his finger, a request Dorow said would have to wait until a lunch break because there was no blood.

At other times, Brooks demanded Dorow show him proof that the state had jurisdiction over him, which resulted in the judge and Brooks shouting at each other. Whenever someone addressed him by name, Brooks would say that he did not recognize "Darrell Brooks."

Almost every question prosecutors asked witnesses was met with an objection from Brooks. Frequently, he was heard muttering under his breath about the trial being unfair and "mind-boggling." At one point, he asked to have the case dismissed, saying that the state of Wisconsin could not physically testify and that only "a living human brain" can bring a lawsuit.