WAUKESHA, Wis. - The trial for Darrell Brooks, the man accused in the Waukesha Christmas parade attack, began Monday, Oct. 3 with jury selection. Brooks managed to delay the start of his trial Monday by becoming so disruptive the judge had to take multiple breaks (at least 11 recesses) before forcing him to watch the proceedings via video from another room.
Jury selection was supposed to begin at 8:30 a.m.
Throughout the morning, Dorow would call Brooks back into court only for him to again become disruptive.
Brooks trial: Day 1 Timeline
Below is a timeline of events from the first day of Brooks' trial, per court records:
8:30 a.m.: Darrell Brooks is in court, along with District Attorney Sue Opper, DDA Lesli Bose, and ADA Zachary Wittchow for the state
8:38 a.m.: Recess due to Brooks' interruptions
After 9 a.m.: Brooks does not consent to the jury selection process previously agreed to with counsel
Court made access to all juror questionnaire information possible if Brooks signed a waiver. He did not. A copy was provided for courtroom use only.
9:25 a.m.: Recess
9:49 a.m.: Brooks provides documents to be e-filed
Brooks refuses to come out and the judge orders that he be brought out
10:09 a.m.: First 41 jurors brought in
10:13 a.m.: Jurors excused for a break
10:27 a.m.: Judge notes Brooks' repeated disruptions
Brooks ordered moved to the courtroom next door
11:33 a.m.: Brooks is brought back to the main courtroom
11:39 a.m.: Brooks is taken back to the courtroom next door
12:35 p.m.: Lunch break
1:39 p.m.: Judge informs Brooks how his disruptions will be handled going forward
Brooks is moved to the courtroom next door
2:38 p.m.: Brooks is brought back into the main courtroom to line up the potential jurors
Brooks was eventually moved back to the courtroom next door and would remain there for the rest of Monday's voir dire.
2:48 p.m. First 41 potential jurors sworn in -- voir dire conducted
3:10 p.m.: Bailiffs begin checking on Brooks every 10 minutes to see if he's awake and listening to the proceedings
4:50 p.m. Brooks allowed back in the courtroom if he so chooses -- he was unresponsive
Seven of the first 41 jurors were struck for cause Monday; 60+ others were on standby but not questioned Monday. They will go through the process Tuesday. Judge Dorow said she wants a pool of 36. Opper said she expects jury selection to be done Tuesday and opening statements to begin Wednesday.
6:35 p.m. Court goes into recess for the night
Brooks kicked out of court
At the start of the hearing, Brooks was given a laminated copy of standards and decorum in court. It didn’t take long for him to violate the rules. Five minutes in, Brooks was sent back to his holding cell, marking the first recess of the morning.
Brooks told Judge Dorow he "doesn’t recognize" the name "Darrell Brooks." He interrupted Judge Dorow several times and said he was "bombarded with paperwork" when Dorow asked if he received documents Friday from the court – two days after Dorow granted his request to defend himself.
"You should have discussed that with an attorney, not the court," said Dorow.
Dorow warned Brooks he could be removed from the courtroom, even with the jury present. She later added that she can revoke Brooks' right to represent himself "at any time."
Brooks, seated in the courtroom in a suit and facemask, continued to assert he's a "sovereign citizen" while acting in his own defense.
Brooks then asked Judge Dorow for her name and "certified copies of her oath."
Dorow accused Brooks of refusing to answer "the simplest of questions," calling his "sovereign citizen" declaration an "obstructionist tactic" to not acknowledge the jurisdiction of the court.
The third recess came as the court waited for the first 41 members of the jury pool; 340 jurors will be summoned, with 105 expected to be called Monday.
Minutes after the prospective jurors entered the courtroom, Dorow ordered the fourth recess of the morning. Brooks rambled about the Constitution and continued asking the judge for her name.
Judge Jennifer Dorow
It was also revealed that Monday morning, Brooks gave the state a handwritten note demanding, among other things, that prosecutors provide "verified proof" that Brooks is a United States citizen.
Potential jurors were removed before Dorow ordered the fifth recess. Brooks continued to argue about his "rights" as a sovereign citizen. Dorow noted Brooks' continuous interruptions.
Brooks made the following requests in court Monday morning: For standby counsel, an adjournment of the case, for Dorow to state her name in court and for more time to review the discovery documentation he received on Friday.
The defendant argued his lack of time to review the material was like "going into a gunfight with a butter knife."
All requests were denied by the judge.
He insisted he did not "fire" his public defenders. Dorow noted that Attorneys Jeremy Perri and Anna Kees were watching the day's proceedings.
Before the sixth recess, District Attorney Sue Opper suggested Brooks be gagged to prevent further outbursts. Dorow said there's a room where he could watch the proceedings via closed circuit television. Dorow warned Brooks that if he interrupted again, he'd be moved to the courtroom next door. Brooks interrupted and was removed.
Dorow also utilized the "mute" button, only allowing Brooks to speak from the next room when he was being respectful.
The seventh recess of the day came as the jurors were being excused for lunch around 11:30 a.m.
Testimony on Brooks' claims he didn't have enough time to review discovery
When court resumed after lunch, two witnesses were called – Attorney Perri and Waukesha County Jail Administrator Angela Wollenhaupt.
Perri said three boxes worth of police reports and witness statements were given to Brooks in jail last week. Wollenhaupt said Brooks was allowed to have those three boxes in his jail cell and was allowed computer time to review electronic discovery, but she testified he chose not to.
Brooks crossed examined each, trying to make a case that he wasn’t given full access and; therefore, not able to prepare.
Also Monday morning, the judge asked that prosecutors remain at their desks for the duration of the trial, with opening statements and closing arguments done from a seated position for fairness, with Brooks, representing himself, secured at his desk.
After lunch, Brooks was given another chance, but was kicked out of the courtroom twice more, moved again to the room next door. Jury selection finally got underway around 2 p.m.
The court went into recess for the night around 6:30 p.m.
Christmas parade attack
Prosecutors say Brooks drove a red SUV through the parade route on Nov. 21, 2021, killing six and injuring more than 60 others.
On Nov. 21, 2021, according to prosecutors, Brooks met up with his ex-girlfriend in Frame Park, the same woman he is accused of running over with his red SUV earlier in November 2021. She told police they argued in his SUV before he started driving, and he "was driving around with one hand and striking her in the face with his other hand." She eventually got out and called her friends for help.
Soon after that, according to prosecutors, Brooks drove that red SUV through the parade route, killing Jackson Sparks, 8, Virginia Sorenson, 79, LeAnna Owen, 71, Tamara Durand, 52, Jane Kulich, 52 and Wilhelm Hospel, 81. More than 60 others were hurt.
Waukesha parade attack victims identified
Brooks was arrested the night of the attack, soon after telling a Waukesha resident that he was homeless and waiting for an Uber. The man was unaware of the events that had occurred and let Brooks into his home.
Brooks entered an insanity plea in June after initially pleading not guilty to the charges in February, a move that could have resulted in him being sentenced to a mental institution rather than prison if convicted. He later dropped the insanity plea on Sept. 9.
Darrell Brooks faces 76 charges, including six counts of first-degree intentional homicide and 61 counts of reckless endangerment. Each homicide charge carries a mandatory life sentence.