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Brooks sentenced to life in prison without parole for Christmas parade attack

Christmas Parade SUV
Posted at 5:12 PM, Nov 16, 2022

WAUKESHA, Wis. — Darrell Brooks, the man a jury convicted of killing six people after he drove an SUV through the Waukesha Christmas Parade, was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole on Wednesday.

Brooks was sentenced to six consecutive life sentences for each charge of first-degree intentional homicide.

A jury convicted 40-year-old Brooks with 76 charges, including six counts of first-degree intentional homicide and 61 counts of recklessly endangering safety.

Each homicide count carries a mandatory life sentence in Wisconsin, while each endangerment count carries a maximum sentence of 17.5 years.

Christmas Parade SUV
Holiday decorations frame a police officer in downtown Waukesha, Wis., after a vehicle plowed into a parade of Christmas marchers, killing multiple people Sunday, Nov. 21, 2021. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Phelps)

There was a chance Brooks could have been released on extended supervision at some point, but that call was Waukesha County Judge Jennifer Dorow's alone.

Sentencing was scheduled for Nov. 15 and Nov. 16 so that the dozens of people who wanted to speak during the hearing could do so. Brooks previously said he expected 20 people to speak during the sentencing on his behalf.

During the trial, prosecutors argued Brooks turned his red SUV into the parade on Nov. 21, 2021, after fleeing a fight with his ex-girlfriend. That's despite warnings from police to stop and officers opened fire on him, though no squad cars were pursuing him at the time.

Waukesha parade trial: Darrell Brooks breaks down in tears during opening statement

Six people were killed in the parade attack. The victims are 8-year-old boy Jackson Sparks, who was walking with his baseball team in the parade; Leanna Owen, Virginia Sorenson and Tamara Durand, who were members of the Dancing Grannies performing during the parade; Wilhelm Hospel, husband to a surviving Dancing Grannies member; and Jane Kulich, who was attending the parade.

Dozens of others suffered injuries, including some severe.

waukesha parade attack
These are the 6 people killed by Brooks in last year's Christmas parade.

The attack hit home for the city of 70,000 people just west of Milwaukee. Residents built memorials for those who had died in the attack. The community rallied around the slogan, "Waukesha Strong." A local fundraiser meanwhile raised millions of dollars for the victims and their families.

Christmas Parade SUV
FILE - A family visits a memorial at Veteran's Park for the victims of Sunday, Nov. 21, 2021's deadly Christmas parade crash in Waukesha, Wis. on Nov. 23, 2021. A Wisconsin judge is poised to decide Friday whether Darrell Brooks, Jr.,a Milwaukee man accused of plowing his SUV through a suburban Christmas parade, killing six people and injuring dozens more, will stand trial. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Phelps File)

Brooks, 40 years old, at first pleaded not guilty by reason of mental disease, which would have carried a sentence in a mental institution instead of prison. Just before the trial was about to begin, though, Brooks withdrew that plea, fired his public defenders and urged Waukesha County Judge Jennifer Dorow to let him represent himself in his own trial, which she allowed.

During closing arguments, Waukesha County District Attorney Susan Opper argued that Brooks' failure to stop before hitting people in the parade showed he intended to kill them.

After about three hours of deliberations, the jury delivered the convictions on Oct. 26 after a roughly two-week trial.

Tyler Pudleiner, who performed with the Waukesha South High School band when he was hit by Brooks' SUV, previously told reporters that the convictions would help all the victims heal, the Associated Press reported at the time.

“One of the things that I’ve said throughout this is we’re stronger than (Brooks), and it’s been proven today,” Pudleiner said.

Jackson Danbeck at TMJ4 first reported this story.