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Parade Attack Suspect Clashes With Judge, Demands To Represent Himself Because He’s A Sovereign Citizen

Waukesha, WI – The suspect accused of plowing his vehicle into a Christmas parade in 2021, killing six people and injuring at least 62 more, will be allowed to represent himself at his upcoming trial, a judge determined on Wednesday.

Darrell Brooks, 40, faces 77 charges in connection with the November, 2021 attack, to include six counts of intentional homicide, KSAZ reported.

Each of those six counts carries a potential life sentence.

Brooks, a self-described “sovereign citizen,” has repeatedly clashed with Waukesha County Judge Jennifer Dorow since the case began.

He has also repeatedly spoken over the judge, interrupted courtroom proceedings, and launched into angry outbursts.

Brooks announced during a hearing on Tuesday that he wanted to get rid of his defense attorneys so he could represent himself “Pro Per.”

Dorow asked him to explain what that meant from Brooks’ perspective.

“AGAIN…because I’ve already said it…to represent myself as a sovereign citizen,” he responded.

Dorow took extensive measures to ensure Brooks understood his rights and what it would mean for him to no longer have legal counsel as he faces a prosecutorial team that has 66 years of combined courtroom experience, KSAZ reported.

“Doesn’t make me flinch a bit,” Brooks told her.

But the defendant also repeatedly told the judge he didn’t understand the charges against him, and said he “would like to know the nature and cause of the charges,” KSAZ reported.

When the judge read off the 77 charges against him, the defendant laughed, Insider reported.

“I’m not going to answer anything until you answer the question about how the state can be a victim,” he told her.

“I’m not going to get into a debate about whether you’re a sovereign citizen or not, or whether you have any understanding of how the state is a plaintiff in this case,” Dorow said, according to Insider. “My sole reason for being here today is your motion through your attorneys to consider your request to represent yourself.”

Dorow eventually accused the argumentative defendant of “playing games” with the court, and ultimately adjourned the hearing for the day, KSAZ reported.

She gave Brooks a deadline of 9 a.m. on Wednesday to decide whether he would complete the “waiver of right to attorney” paperwork, which he ultimately chose to fill out and file.

“I want you to know that waiving your right to an attorney does not mean that the trial is delayed. Did you hear me say that?” Dorow asked him during another hearing on Wednesday.

Brooks said that attempting to delay the proceedings was not the “reason” for his request.

“So, you don’t want to delay the trial, correct?” Dorow responded.

“That’s not what I said,” Brooks told her. “I said the decision to represent myself pro per has nothing to do with a delay tactic. I think I’m very clear with what I said.”

Brooks refused to agree that he was not requesting that the trial be adjourned, so Dorow asked him directly.

“I can’t logically make that decision until you make the judicial determination,” he told her. “Why would I answer that question right now at this point when I still don’t know what’s been decided yet?”

Dorow warned Brooks that once his right to legal counsel is waived, it is not absolute that he would be entitled to legal counsel again in this case in the future.

This clarification was made after prosecutors asked the judge to make sure Brooks understands he cannot “flip-flop” between wanting legal counsel and wanting to represent himself.

Dorow further told him he cannot have an attorney while also acting as his own attorney, KSAZ reported.

“It may be difficult for you to act as your own attorney,” the judge reiterated.

“Yeah, I heard you,” Brooks responded. “I don’t see them as challenges at all.”

Brooks’ attorneys said they have met with him more than 25 times since the case began and that they “have not had any problem communicating” with him, KSAZ reported.

After pleading not guilty to the 77 counts against him February, Brooks later entered an insanity plea in June.

He dropped the insanity plea in early September.

Dorow extensively outlined the measures taken to ensure Brooks’ competency and ultimately determined there has been “no evidence” that he has a mental condition, KSAZ reported.

Brooks has an 11th-grade education through Wisconsin’s High School Equivalency Program, according to KSAZ.

“I agree they have worked tirelessly on a lot of things in this case,” Brooks said of his attorneys on Tuesday, adding that there are “a lot of things” he doesn’t understand about his case and the courtroom proceedings.

But he insisted he believed he “will be better served” by representing himself, KSAZ reported.

Dorow repeatedly remined the accused killer that the trial will not be delayed.

Jury selection is slated to begin on Oct. 3, KSAZ reported.

“This trial will start next Monday,” Dorow said. “Did you hear me say that?”

“I heard you say that, but I object,” Brooks responded.

His now-former attorneys declined to comment after leaving the courtroom on Wednesday.

Brooks, a rapper who goes by the name of “Mathboi Fly,” has racked up a slew of criminal offenses dating back to 1999, FOX News reported.

In addition to his lengthy criminal history, Brooks also has exhibited a pattern of sharing disturbing messages and memes on social media, according to the New York Post.

Several posts praised attacks on law enforcement officers, who Brooks referred to as “violent street gangs,” according to the news outlet.

Other posts called for people to carry out acts of violence against white people, the New York Post reported.

Investigators have not released a motive for the Christmas parade massacre, but all the victims who were killed were white.

Brooks also shared messages praising Adolf Hitler, who he claimed “did the world a favor by killing” Jewish people, the New York Post reported.

Brooks is currently a Tier 2 registered sex offender in Nevada, according to FOX News.

His first felony conviction in Wisconsin occurred in 1999, when he was convicted of taking part in an aggravated burglary, FOX News reported.

He was sentenced to three years on probation for that incident.

Brooks was convicted of a felony marijuana offense in 2002, and of obstructing an officer in both 2003 and 2005, according to FOX News.

He pleaded guilty to misdemeanor bail jumping and marijuana offenses in 2012, and to resisting arrest and felony marijuana offenses in 2013.

Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm’s office charged Brooks with felon in possession of a firearm and two counts of second-degree recklessly endangering safety on July 27, 2020, Chisholm said in a press release last year.

On Nov. 5, 2021, he was charged with felony bail jumping, second-degree recklessly endangering safety, obstructing an officer, battery, and disorderly conduct in connection with a separate case.

“The State made a cash bail request in this case of $1,000, which was set by the court,” Chisolm wrote. “The defendant posted $1,000 cash bail on November 11, resulting in his release from custody.”

One of the cases involved allegations Brooks barged into a woman’s hotel room, stole her cell phone, and later punched her and ran her over with a vehicle when he saw her out walking to a nearby gas station, according to FOX News.

Another pending case involved allegations Brooks shot at his nephew.

The nephew was not hit by the gunfire, according to investigators.

Brooks remained in jail due to a warrant for failing to pay child support and skipping hearings pertaining to a 2003 paternity case, but was ultimately released Nov. 16, 2021, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.

Prosecutors said Brooks made no attempt to try to avoid running into participants and bystanders who were out enjoying the community Christmas parade on Nov. 21, 2021, WISC reported.

According to the criminal complaint, multiple officers yelled at Brooks to stop before he crashed through barricades and drove into the parade route.

An officer radioed for an emergency response as the suspect sped past him and into the parade route, police said.

The officer then chased after the suspect’s vehicle on foot.

Brooks began plowing into people and running victims over seconds later, according to the complaint.

One officer said he “observed the driver looking straight ahead, directly at him, and it appeared he had no emotion on his face,” WISC reported.

Several officers noted Brooks had plenty of opportunities to exit the parade route without hitting anyone if he happened to have driven into the area by accident, but that he didn’t do that.

Police said he stomped on the accelerator as he approached the paradegoers, according to the complaint.

Multiple witnesses told investigators the suspect seemed to be trying to hit as many people as he could by driving in a zig-zag pattern, WISC reported.

“This was an intentional act to strike and hurt as many people as possible,” one officer said, according to court documents.

Six victims – eight-year-old Jackson Sparks, 81-year-old Wilhelm Hospel, 52-year-old Jane Kulich, 52-year-old Tamara Durand, 71-year-old LeAnna Owen, and 79-year-old Virginia Sorenson – died in the attack, KSAZ reported.

More than 60 other victims were injured.

Written by
Holly Matkin

Holly is a former probation and parole officer who is married to a sheriff’s deputy. She is a regular contributor to Signature Montana magazine, and has written feature articles for Distinctly Montana magazine.

View all articles
Written by Holly Matkin


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