Judge delays ruling on Waukesha Parade attack suspect’s self-representation at trial

TODD ​​RICHMOND Associated Press

WAUKESHA – A Wisconsin judge postponed his decision on Tuesday on whether a man accused of killing six people and injuring dozens of others when he allegedly drove his SUV in a Christmas parade may stand for trial, after the suspect said he did not understand the charges against him or how the state could pursue him.

Waukesha County Circuit Judge Jennifer Dorow has given Darrell Brooks until Wednesday morning to decide if he still wants to run again. If he does, she has promised to schedule another hearing later today.

FOX6 News has learned much more about the man arrested and charged with plowing an SUV on the Waukesha Christmas Parade route.

Brooks’ trial is scheduled to begin on Monday. It’s unclear whether Dorow would delay proceedings if Brooks were allowed to represent himself. District Attorney Susan Opper filed a brief Monday urging her not to delay the trial, arguing that the trial date pushed back to March and that a delay would disturb the hundreds of witnesses she might call and prolong the emotional turmoil of the victims of the parade.

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Prosecutors say Brooks drove his SUV in a Christmas parade in downtown Waukesha on Nov. 21. He faces 77 counts, including six counts of first-degree intentional homicide and 61 counts of reckless endangerment. Any potential motive remains unclear.

Brooks, 40, pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity, but removed this means earlier this month. His lawyers, Anna Kees and Jeremy Perri, last week filed a motion to withdraw from the case because Brooks wants to represent himself.

Brooks told Dorow he wanted to represent himself because Kees and Perri did not explain the “nature and cause” of the charges. He didn’t explain what that meant.

Dorow asked Brooks if he understood what he was doing, if he understood the seriousness of the charges, and if he understood he could face life in prison if convicted of homicide. She also asked if he understood that if he waived his right to a lawyer, he would be alone against a team of prosecutors with a combined 66 years of courtroom experience.

“It doesn’t make me flinch one bit,” Brooks said.

But he also told Dorow that he didn’t understand the charges, the penalties, or the way the legal documents are captioned, and that he didn’t know that Opper was representing the state, even though she was in all of her previous court appearances and identified herself as the district attorney.

He ultimately refused to proceed until the judge explained to him how the state has the legal power to sue him when the state was not harmed.

An exasperated Dorow warned Brooks not to play games with her.

“Sir, this is a legitimate case,” she said. “I’m not going to make fun (of that) by letting you ask that question.”

She eventually called a suspension. When the court resumed, she gave Brooks a packet of documents outlining the administration of the trial.

Elna M. Lemons