‘Burn in Hell’: Christmas Parade Attacker’s Bizarre Trial Ends in Guilty Verdict

Mark Hoffman/Pool/Getty
Mark Hoffman/Pool/Getty

Darrell Brooks, the man who killed six people and injured dozens of others when he plowed his SUV into a Christmas parade in Waukesha, Wisconsin, last November, was found guilty on six counts of intentional homicide on Wednesday.

The verdict puts an end to the dizzying trial where Darrell Brooks represented himself, unsuccessfully arguing that he didn’t intentionally kill his victims.

The jury began deliberations on Tuesday and reached a verdict by Wednesday morning. Brooks, 40, now faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison.

In prosecutors’ final arguments, District Attorney Susan Opper focused on Brooks’ failure to slow down after he ran over his first victim as proof that he intended to kill.

“Not one person had to be hurt that day if he would have just stopped driving,” Opper said Tuesday. “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.”

Video of the incident was played in court on Tuesday, where prosecutors reportedly fought back tears at they watched Brooks mow down families who were out celebrating.

Brooks was arrested at the scene. He initially pleaded not guilty by reason of mental disease, but withdrew the plea in September.

The trial, which began Oct. 3, became even more bizarre just days before it began, when Brooks dismissed his public defenders and elected to represent himself.

What followed was an erratic defense by Brooks, in which he clashed with Judge Jennifer Dorow each day. At times, Brooks had to be removed from the courtroom all together for his behavior and escorted to a separate room equipped with a video stream.

The verdict comes less than a year after the slaughter itself, where Brooks killed an 8-year-old boy and several members of a “Dancing Grannies” group on Nov. 21.

Just two weeks before the attack, Brooks had been released from jail on $1,000 bail after he allegedly ran over a woman. Prosecutors later acknowledged it was an “inappropriately low” bail amount for the alleged crime committed.

During his attack at the parade, prosecutors said Brooks drove as fast as 30 mph when he plowed down his victims, striking 68 people in total.

Witnesses testified that Brooks honked his horn throughout the attack—a detail the 40-year-old pointed to as proof he didn’t kill intentionally.

“I’ve never heard of someone trying to intentionally hurt someone while attempting to blow their horn while attempting to alert people of their presence,” Brooks said.

That argument was one of the few instances of normalcy within the trial, which was marked with countless bizarre acts from Brooks, including repeated claims that his real name was not “Darrell Brooks.”

Brooks also challenged whether the court had jurisdiction over his case—it did—and frequently interrupted or spoke over Opper and Dorow.

“He continues to not respect the fact that a ruling has been made, and he wants to argue and reargue and reargue points that this court has already gone over,” Dorow said Tuesday, as Brooks insisted the case continue longer.

Brooks delivered his closing statements in person on Tuesday, where he used his time to argue that his SUV had been recalled due to a throttle malfunction. Dorow objected to his claim, citing an expert who previously testified there were no issues with the SUV.

“Throughout this year I’ve been called a lot of things,” Brooks said in his closing remarks. “And to be fair I am a lot of things. A murderer is not one of them.”

Opper shot back: “You need to look in the mirror, Mr. Brooks. Your actions are that of a murderer.”

The chaos surrounding the trial was present even in its final moments, with an onlooker from the gallery having to be removed for shouting at Brooks.

“Burn in hell you piece of shit,” the heckler was captured screaming.

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