Legal experts see case for intent

Darrell Brooks’ first appearance in Waukesha County Court

That man accused of plowing his SUV into a parade of Christmas marchers could have turned down a side street but did not. When he first passed it, he never touched the brakes – barreled through, leaving corpses in the wake, according to a criminal complaint.

No motive has been given for Darrell Brooks Jr., the suspect in the Milwaukee suburban accident Sunday that killed six people and injured more than 60 others, but it may not matter if he goes to court. Legal experts say the evidence strongly supports allegations of premeditated murder that would mean life in prison.

Former Waukesha County District Attorney Paul Bucher said it could be difficult to prove the intent of the first person Brooks beat, “but when he kept knowing what he had done to the first person and did not stop, it was all on purpose. “

Brooks, 39, is charged with five counts of first-degree premeditated murder and is expected to face a sixth charge following a 8-year-old boy died Tuesday. Waukesha County District Attorney Susan Opper has also said further charges are likely.

Brooks’ lawyers, Jeremy Perri and Anna Kees, warned people not to judge the case until all the facts are known.

“It is important that we do not rush to judge, and instead treat these cases and everyone involved with dignity and respect,” they said in a statement.

“That includes Mr. Brooks, who has the right to an energetic defense and careful protection of his constitutional rights. No matter how serious and emotionally charged the charges are, our client is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.”

Opper said Wednesday that her office would not comment on an ongoing case.

Brooks is accused of refusing to stop even though an officer knocked on the bonnet of his SUV. Another officer fired three shots into the vehicle, but it did not stop.

Five people aged 52 to 81 were declared dead within hours. One of many injured children, Jackson Sparks, 8, died Tuesday. Representatives of the area’s hospitals said Wednesday that at least 16 people are being treated for injuries.

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Waukesha parade attacks victims identified

Brooks has not spoken publicly, and it is not known what, if anything, he told investigators.

But even though Brooks was under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time – and police have not said he was – it could not be used as a defense in Wisconsin, experts said.

Tom Grieve, a Brookfield defense attorney and former Waukesha County prosecutor, said a possible defense would be that Brooks suffered from a mental illness or defect. A jury was to decide whether he was guilty of the charges and then whether he was mentally ill. Such a finding would likely land him in a psychiatric institution rather than in prison.

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Opper could have accused Brooks of first-degree ruthless murder, which would have been a “slam dunk” sentence, which given Brooks’ age would have been an effective life sentence, Bucher said. But extensive video and other evidence also supports the more serious accusation, he and other experts said.

“The fact that he did not step on the brake: It was on purpose. The fact that his foot was on the gas: It was on purpose. He could have stopped … He is the only person who could put his foot on the brake pedal, and he did not, “Grieve said.

A criminal complaint describing the charges includes statements from police officers and witnesses who said the vehicle “appeared to be moving intentionally from side to side”, with no attempt to brake or stop as it hit several people and sent corpses and objects flying.

An officer trying to stop the vehicle said Brooks looked directly at him and it appeared he had no feelings on his face, the complaint said.

Video of Darrell Brooks Jr. allegedly driving through Waukesha Christmas parade

Prosecutors would not be allowed to put police or spectators on the stand to speculate on what Brooks intended to do, or his state of mind, experts said.

Bucher said the prosecution would also not be able to introduce postings on social media made by Brooks, a hopeful rapper, or lyrics from his songs that suggest an interest in violence – which became the subject of widespread speculation on social media about , that Brooks’ actions were intentional.

Brooks included links on social media to his songs, several of which apparently celebrate violence and call police “pigs.” In a biography on his SoundCloud account, he refers to growing up in “the dangerous West Side neighborhood of Washington Park” in Milwaukee, his “many legal battles” and his desire to turn “the life he lived on the streets” into music.

Brooks, who has been charged with crimes more than a dozen times since 1999, had two outstanding cases against him at the time of the parade disaster, including one earlier in November where he is accused of deliberately hitting a woman with his car in Milwaukee County. He had been released on $ 1,000 bail for the case, which prosecutors now say was inappropriately low.

And on Sunday, Brooks left the scene of a domestic dispute that had taken place minutes before he drove onto the parade route, Waukesha Police Chief Dan Thompson said.

Several experts predicted a grievance agreement.

“If I were in this case, what I would try to do would be to see how I can put out this fire as quickly as possible,” said Phil Turner, a former federal prosecutor who now works in private practice in Chicago. . “If you let it linger, it only gets worse.”

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Milwaukee County DA under fire for bail suspect

Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm said the bail his office recommended to Darrell Brooks earlier this month was too low. Now right-wing speakers and Republican politicians want the Democrats’ DA to pay the price.

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