WAUKESHA, Wis. – Testimony in front of the jury that began on Thursday to A man is accused of digging up Christmas Eve last yearwhile he was mainly participating from a different court, he was removed after a lot of confusion and an incident where he took off his shirt in court.
The prosecutor gave his opening statement and two witnesses – a police officer on duty at the time of the parade and a friend of the defendant’s ex-girlfriend – were questioned after hours of trial and multiple jury instructions.
Darrell Brooks Jr. He is charged with 76 counts, including six counts of first-degree murder, in a case involving potentially multiple witnesses. The two testified on Thursday. He is accused of driving his car while passing parade in Waukesha, Wisconsin, resulting in the death of six people and the injury of many others.
Assistant Waukesha County District Attorney Zach Wittchow laid out the prosecutor’s case, looking at the death and injuries that occurred on Main Street in the late afternoon on Nov. 21, 2021.
Brooks “hit the gas on his red Ford Escape and used it as a battering ram repeatedly, hitting men, women, and children,” Wittchow said.
The incident followed a violent confrontation between Brooks and his ex-girlfriend, who is also the mother of his child, who was living at a women’s shelter in Waukesha, Wittchow said.
Wittchow said the prosecution is prepared to argue that Brooks intentionally caused the deaths and put many others at risk, contradicting any claims by Brooks that he had no such intent. Part of the focus will be the “dead” spot in the parade, where Brooks’ SUV ran into. Milwaukee Dancing Grannies, killing four members.
Brooks retracted his opening statements later in the trial.
The day begins with confusion, delay
Brooks, who chose not to be represented by an attorney and has been out of court several times in court proceedings, was reprimanded by Judge Jennifer Dorow for repeating his repeated statements in court Thursday before the jury went into court.
As soon as Dorow gave the verdict on Thursday, Brooks began to stir and protest. It erupted when Dorow was trying to explain why Brooks had chosen to wear his orange prison clothes, rather than a suit or other street clothes he could find.
After more than a dozen interruptions, Brooks was again removed to a nearby courthouse.
When he appeared on video from that courtroom 15 minutes later, his shirt was on, and his back was to the camera. Dorow explained that Brooks had also taken off a shoe, looked like he wanted to throw it, and threatened to break things.
Dorow warned that his behavior, if he continued to be “chaotic” in front of the judges, would bring his own danger in his defense.
Despite his demeanor, District Attorney Sue Opper said she believed Brooks deserved a trial, saying his drunkenness should be seen as a delay, not a measure of his ability, and the judge agreed. Four investigators examined Brooks and found no issues with his legal skills, Dorow said.
Brooks appeared away from the second court for much of the day, including questioning witnesses, before reentering the grand jury. Dorow later praised Brooks for his participation in the interview and his decision to return to the room.
Witnesses testify about the events leading up to the death
Kori Runkel, who said she was a friend of Brooks’ ex-girlfriend, described an argument between Brooks and his ex-girlfriend that allegedly happened earlier in the day.
Runkel said he saw Brooks threaten his ex-girlfriend. Brooks disputed whether he had heard any threats from him.
“Yes that you were yelling at him, and that you wanted to kill him and get in the car,” Runkel replied.
Brooks also questioned his credibility and Runkel admitted that he was sober, but not drunk, at the time. On retrial, Wittchow rebuilt the basis of his testimony, that Runkel had told the investigator about the threats he heard Brooks make.
Waukesha Police Sgt. Mr. David Wanner, who works on patrol and was on duty during the parade, confirmed that the parade was going on, he saw a red SUV “moving at speed” and entering the road. He estimated the car was traveling 40 mph in a 25-mph zone on White Rock Avenue and entering the parade route on Main Street.
“As the driver passed, about six feet in front of me, I saw the driver,” said Wanner, who then got into his squad car.
“It was the worst thing I’ve ever heard,” he said, choking up with a pause, as he spoke of the cries that came from the victims.
In cross-examination, Brooks asked if, in the surveillance video, Wanner could see anyone trying to hit people on purpose. Wanner said he didn’t.