A 39-year-old Milwaukee man — Darrell Brooks Jr. — has been accused of killing six people and injuring 62 more by driving an SUV through a suburban Christmas parade last November in Waukesha, Wis. He pleaded not guilty Friday to a total of 77 criminal charges that now include homicide, reckless endangerment and witness intimidation.
In light of the local attention that the incident has received, Brooks’ attorneys filed for a change of venue or a jury picked from another county on Thursday. They further requested that the jury be sequestered during trial. The motion has yet to be heard.
"An impartial trial cannot be held in Waukesha County," argued defense attorneys Jeremy Perri and Anna Kees, citing that “the passions and prejudice negatively affecting the defendant's constitutional right to a fair trial are so great that a change of venue is necessary.”
Prosecutors hold evidence including cellphone videos that they say show Brooks deliberately drove through the parade.
Among other witnesses, police detective Thomas Casey testified in the preliminary hearing that he and other officers called for Brooks to stop as he drove the SUV in a zig-zag motion through multiple blocks of the parade and its marchers.
According to Brooks’ defense attorneys, he could not escape the parade route once he entered because the side streets were barricaded and filled with spectators, though a criminal complaint filed in January by the prosecution claimed that “[The street] was clearly closed to traffic … for the entire length of the parade route.” Kees further noted that Brooks couldn’t bring himself to look when shown photos of the carnage.
Brooks is now jailed on $5 million bail and is scheduled to reappear in court next month.
Alex Tan is a staff writer for the Daily Cardinal specializing in state politics coverage. Follow him on Twitter at @dxvilsavocado.