Wisconsin Christmas parade driver, Darrell Brooks has been sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of extended supervision for driving his SUV into a crowd of Christmas parade attendees in Waukesha, Wisconsin, last November, killing six people and wounding dozens more.
Brooks, 40, received the sentencing after a circuit court jury in Waukesha, Wisconsin, found him guilty on Oct. 26 of 76 criminal charges, including the six counts of intentional homicide with the use of a dangerous weapon.
On Wednesday, following two days of impassioned statements from victims and family members, Judge Jennifer Dorow imposed the statutorily mandated sentence, ordering Brooks to serve a life sentence without the possibility of extended supervision for each of the six counts of first-degree intentional homicide with the use of a dangerous weapon. The sentences will run consecutively, the judge said.
In addition to six consecutive life sentences for first-degree intentional homicide, Dorow also imposed sentences Wednesday for Brooks totaling hundreds of years of additional confinement for the remaining 70 counts he was found guilty on last month.
She sentenced Brooks to 17.5 years for each of the 61 counts of first-degree recklessly endangering safety with the use of a dangerous weapon.
“You have absolutely no remorse for anything that you do. You have no empathy for anyone,” Dorow told Brooks. “Frankly, Mr. Brooks, no one is safe from you,” she continued.
Brooks spoke for more than two hours Wednesday afternoon, telling the court that he too struggles to understand why this tragic incident happened.
“That’s a question I struggle with myself,” Brooks said. “The why, the how. How could life ever get this far away from what it should be? Regardless of what a lot of people may think about me, about who I am, about my family, about my beliefs, I know who I am. God knows who I am. And I don’t have any words of anger,” he continued.
During his remarks, Brooks, who represented himself, only once apologized to the victims and the community of Waukesha, saying that no one can see the remorse he feels.
“I want you to know not only am I sorry for what happened, I’m sorry that you could not see what’s truly in my heart. That you cannot see the remorse that I have,” Brooks told the court. “That you cannot count all the tears that I have dropped in this year.”
Dorow also spoke at length on Brooks’ mental health, a topic his family members spoke about during the hearing.
Mental health issues did not cause him to drive into a large crowd of people and didn’t play a role in the attack, the judge said, citing passages and opinions from four mental health evaluations of Brooks from doctors. She said he understood the difference between right and wrong. She also said Brooks had no remorse nor empathy for anyone.
“Do the mentally ill sometimes commit atrocious crimes? They do. This is not one of those situations,” Dorow said. “There are many times, many times, good people do bad things. But there are times when evil people do bad things.
“There is no medication or treatment for a heart that is bent on evil.”
Prosecutors asked the judge Tuesday to sentence Brooks to the maximum sentence for all convictions stemming from the attack.
“He deserves the absolute maximum sentence on all counts, consecutive,” Waukesha County District Attorney Susan Opper told the judge.
“You saw the videos. This wasn’t him plowing into one large group of fifty people at one time and hitting them. It was linear. He hit one, kept going. Hit two, kept going. Hit three, kept going. All the way down the street. That’s consecutive sentences, your honor. That’s intentional, willful, volitional conduct that warrants consecutive sentences stacked one on top of the other just as he stacked victims up as he drove down the road in complete disregard for any other person whatsoever,” Opper continued.
In addition to the 762.5 years in prison for reckless endangerment, Dorow added sentences of three years for each of the two bail-jumping convictions and nine months for domestic battery.
Dorow said the number of total years she sentenced Brooks to serve was needed to keep him away from the community for the rest of his life and was also symbolic.
“To order anything other than what I have done, sir, would be unduly depreciate the seriousness of these offenses. It is needed although largely symbolic given the number of years that I have imposed here today, because frankly you deserve it,” Dorow said.
The judge said she will leave decisions about mental health treatment up to the Department of Corrections.