WAUKESHA, Wis. — Darrell Brooks, the man a jury convicted of killing six people after he drove an SUV through the Waukesha Christmas Parade, was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole on Wednesday.
Witnesses, victims, and Darrell Brooks' family are expected to speak Wednesday during day two of sentencing for the man convicted of killing six and injuring dozens during the 2021 Waukesha Christmas parade.
In late October, a jury found Brooks guilty of 76 criminal counts, including six counts of first-degree intentional homicide and 61 counts of recklessly endangering safety. Each homicide count carries a mandatory life sentence in Wisconsin, while each endangerment count carries a maximum sentence of 17.5 years.
District Attorney Sue Opper asked the judge to impose all six mandatory life sentences without the possibility for parole as well as an additional 859 years facing Brooks.
LATEST UPDATES FROM THE DARRELL BROOKS SENTENCING: WEDNESDAY, NOV. 16
5:55 p.m. update:
Darrell Brooks was sentenced to 762.5 years behind bars. He will never be released from prison.
5:46 p.m. update:
Darrell Brooks is sentenced to life in prison without parole.
5:44 p.m. update:
Judge Dorow says the community is only safe if he is put in prison for the rest of his life.
4:59 p.m. update:
Brooks refused to sit down, forfeiting his right to be present in the courtroom. He is being removed again.
4:53 p.m. update:
Brooks is back in the courtroom.
He will not sit back down and said he wants to go back to the other room.
Judge Dorow and Brooks are arguing about his right to be in the courtroom.
4:47 p.m. update:
Judge Dorow is allowing Brooks back into the courtroom but warns if he interrupts once he will be removed.
4:26 p.m. update:
Judge Dorow is currently going over her thoughts on the victim impact statements. At one point before that, Judge Dorow got emotional and began to cry. Brooks responded by laughing in the second courtroom where he'd been sent for interrupting the judge.
3:55 p.m. update:
Judge Dorow began crying talking about the victims.
"It's hard not to think about what I watched and not have this reaction," Judge Dorow said. "Those were images that frankly kept me up at night that I saw over and over and over. For their (Waukesha South marching band) director, she is a hero to me, to get up on this stand."
During this time, Brooks appears uninterested, waving a piece of paper over his face.
3:35 p.m. update:
Brooks is removed from the courtroom after interrupting Judge Dorow.
"Mr. Brooks, this is my time, you need to not interrupt," Judge Dorow says. "Do not interrupt me or you will be removed to the other courtroom."
"Remove me then," Brooks responded.
Court is now in a short recess.
3:26 p.m. update:
Judge Dorow notes, "Good people do bad things, but there are times when evil people do bad things."
She says, "There is no medication or treatment for a heart that is bent on evil."
She also noted that Brooks knows right and wrong and he chooses to ignore his conscious.
As a mom, Judge Dorow says her heart breaks for Brooks' family, noting it is "far easier for them to blame a mental illness than to perhaps come to grips that their son did very, very bad things due to very bad motivations."
3:09 p.m. update:
Judge Dorow is reading evaluations from four well-known doctors regarding Brooks' mental health. Judge Dorow said it is her own opinion that mental health did not cause Brooks to do what he did and it did not play a role, "not to say that he wasn't diagnosed with something."
One report notes cannabis abuse, an antisocial personality, multiple acts of violence beginning in his youth, and Brooks' ability to disregard the rights of others.
Another report notes Brooks faced multiple domestic charges in his past, he was not allowed in his mother's home due to violence, and his history of violent behaviors. The report, according to Judge Dorow, strongly suggests Brooks' mental state was fundamentally formed and fueled by contributions from his anger and rage born of his conflict with his girlfriend moments before the parade tragedy.
3:03 p.m. update:
Court resumes. Judge Dorow is about to hand Brooks his sentence for the Waukesha Christmas parade attack.
2:42 p.m. update:
Judge Dorow announces a recess until 3 p.m. after Brooks spoke for nearly two hours.
During his two-hour statement, Brooks cried and apologized for his actions but did not take responsibility for them. He tried to turn around to address victims and survivors directly, but Judge Dorow would not allow that.
The husband of one of the Dancing Grannies, Ginny Sorenson, who was killed walked out during this time. "I've had enough," David Sorenson said.
Another woman said, "I just can't," and also walked out.
2:06 p.m. update:
Brooks has been speaking for nearly 90 mins now. Victims, family members and others in the gallery are growing fatigued. Bathroom breaks are now common. Incredulous stares at Brooks. Most of the speech focused on him. While saying he’s sorry, he hasn’t admitted guilt.
1:47 p.m. update:
Darrell Brooks has now been talking for one hour straight during his sentencing statement. The judge has not cut him off.
1:15 p.m. update:
Darrell Brooks is delivering a final statement. He said the tragedy was "not an attack," and said he has chosen to re-dedicate his life to Christ.
Brooks acknowledged the prosecution team and said "you guys had a job to do. I can't be mad at you for doing your job." He then acknowledged Judge Dorow and told her he does NOT respect how she did her job.
Another notable quote: "Am I angry? Hell yeah."
12:45 p.m. update:
Michele Allworth was one of a handful of people who spoke on behalf of Brooks. Allworth met Brooks nearly 20 years ago when they both lived in Nevada. She referred to Brooks as her “best friend,” and said that they became “brother and sister” to each other over time. “I will always have his back, even with this tragic event,” Allworth said.
Watch her statement:
12:39 p.m. update:
Brooks' grandmother also spoke. She, like Brooks' mom, talked about mental health. She said Brooks has lost his life and his mind, and she said she hopes he finds forgiveness.
She also said she hopes those affected by the tragedy can find it in them to forgive him. She said, "unforgiveness is a horrible disease just like mental illness."
Watch Brooks' grandmother's full statement:
12:15 p.m. update:
Ginny Sorenson's granddaughter spoke first, telling Brooks he took her grandmother from her and from her family.
Brooks' mother spoke in his defense. She began by talking about the impacts of mental illness and said people with mental illnesses should be punished for their actions, but should also receive help.
She said if people receive help, maybe there would be less crime. She said, "jail is not the only answer."
Watch Brooks' mother's statement below:
11:45 a.m. update:
Waukesha County Sheriff's deputies are back at the courthouse today in tactical gear and armed with long guns. They told TMJ4's Bruce Harrison that they'd be there all day following Tuesday's shooting threat.
We also got to see a letter that was shown during yesterday's proceedings. The letter contains words and pictures from a child who was struck by the SUV.
9:35 a.m. update:
Darrell Brooks' mother released a victim impact statement to be read Wednesday. You can read a PDF of her letter here:
RECAP OF SENTENCING DAY ONE:
On Tuesday, more than 40 people gave victim-impact statements. Around six of them were under the age of 18.
While some victims and families said they are willing to forgive Brooks, many said they never would. One theme was consistent among the speakers though: everyone asked Judge Jennifer Dorow to hand down the maximum sentence for each count.
David Sorenson, the husband of Virginia "Ginny" Sorenson who was killed in the parade, gave was among the speakers.
"I will continue to struggle with the loss. I am lucky to have family care for me and wrap me in love so that I can start to glue together the shattered life I now have," said Sorenson.
The children of Jane Kulich, another woman killed in the parade, spoke at the sentencing.
"She won't get to see me say my vows or get married to the love of my life," said Jane's daughter Alisha Kulich. "And she won't ever get to see my future kids, and they won't know what it's like to have a grandma who spoils them."