Darrell Brooks, the Wisconsin man who killed six people and injured dozens of others when he drove his SUV into a Christmas parade near Milwaukee last year, has been found guilty of intentional murder and other charges.
He faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison for the convictions.
The 12-person jury in Waukesha County convicted Brooks of 61 counts of recklessly endangering safety with the use of a dangerous weapon, six counts of fatal hit and run, two counts of felony bail jumping, and one count of misdemeanor domestic battery.
Brooks represented himself in court, but his repeated interruptions, outbursts, and other erratic behavior eventually led Judge Jennifer Dorow to remove him from the courtroom,
The trial comes less than a year after he drove a red SUV through the crowd in Waukesha’s Christmas parade on November 21, killing an 8-year-old boy and several members of the “Dancing Grannies” group.
Brooks had been released from jail less than two weeks prior in a domestic abuse case, on a $1,000 bail that prosecutors later acknowledged was “inappropriately low.” In that case, he allegedly ran over a woman who said she’s the mother of his child, according to court documents.
Prosecutors said in closing arguments Tuesday he intentionally drove through the crowd at significant speeds and hit 68 individual parade-goers, turning a joyous afternoon into a horrific one.
“He reached speeds of approximately 30 mph. That’s intentional. He plowed through 68 different people. 68. How can you hit one and keep going? How can you hit two and keep going?” Waukesha County District Attorney Susan Opper said.
“His intent I do have to prove, and I submit without any doubt there’s overwhelming evidence that this was an intentional act by Darrell Brooks and an act of utter disregard for human life.”
In his own closing arguments, Brooks attempted to raise questions about the vehicle and about his intent. He repeatedly said there had been “misconceptions” and “lies” told about him during the trial.
“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.
Jurors deliberated on Tuesday night for just under two hours and then resumed again on Wednesday morning.
Judge Jennifer Dorow scheduled a hearing Monday to set a sentencing date.
In a statement, Waukesha Mayor Shawn Reilly said: ‘I am thankful that the jury found the defendant guilty on all counts. We can now re-focus on taking steps forward as a community and continue the healing process.’
Police Chief Dan Thompson also said: ‘In the nearly one year since this tragedy, there has not been a day that our community has not grieved.
‘The victims’ families as well as our first responders continue to deal with the lasting effects of the horrors of that day.
‘We are grateful for the support that has come from all over the world and we ask you to continue to keep all those involved in your prayers.’