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Darrell Brooks trial Day 8 wraps early due to storms

Court broke for the day early due to storms Wednesday.
Christmas Parade SUV
Posted at 8:10 AM, Oct 12, 2022
and last updated 2022-10-12 19:20:14-04

WAUKESHA, Wis. — The trial continues for Darrell Brooks, the man accused of killing six people and injuring dozens more after driving an SUV through the Waukesha Christmas Parade in 2021.

Prosecutors allege Brooks, 40, hit and killed six people and injured scores of others with an SUV on Nov. 21 in the Milwaukee suburb of Waukesha. Police said he turned into the parade after fleeing a domestic disturbance, though officers were not pursuing him at the time.

The 76 charges he faces include six counts of first-degree intentional homicide. Each of those counts carries a mandatory life sentence. Brooks has been acting as his own attorney since last week when he demanded Judge Dorow dismiss his public defenders.

On Wednesday, the court was moving along at possibly its quickest pace yet. The state called five witnesses in the morning, and Brooks had nearly finished his cross of the fifth before severe weather interrupted the trial.

Judge Jennifer Dorow called a recess after a tornado warning was issued for Waukesha County.

"There is some weather coming in, and I've had some alerts, and I want to make sure everyone gets to a safe location," said Dorow.

Before the break, the jury heard more dramatic testimony, this time from parents of children injured in the parade.

Daniel Knapp says his little girl flew 15 feet through the air after the SUV struck her.

"She was conscious, but I would consider a look of — now mind you, she's three years old — a complete look of fear and misunderstanding," said Knapp.

He then testified that he made eye contact with the driver of the SUV, who he described as a Black male with facial hair and wide eyes.

"At the time, the eyes (are) what drew me in. Completely wide open," said Knapp.

On cross, Brooks asked Knapp if it would have been hard for him to see any other features of the driver because he was "so fixated on the eyes."

Knapp said he was only stating what he saw.

To get the latest information on the trial of Darrell Brooks, view our reporting in this article and the live tweeting from our reporters in court.


1:20 p.m. update:

Court breaks for the day over concern for severe storms in Waukesha and SE Wisconsin. Court will resume on Thursday at 8:00 a.m. here on TMJ4 News.

Daniel Knapp says he made eye contact with the driver of the vehicle

12:57 p.m. update:

Court resumes with cross-examination of Daniel Knapp, today's fourth witness. His daughter was struck by the red SUV.

Judge Jennifer Dorow said she'd like to finish the cross and break for the day due to extreme weather.

The state has asked to instead take an extended break. Once the cross has finished, Dorow will make a decision about whether to continue court for the day.

11:40 a.m. update:

Court is on break due to a Tornado Warning issued in Waukesha and Jefferson counties. The warning ends at noon, the National Weather Service said.

11:00 a.m. update:

Daniel Knapp says he made eye contact with the driver of the vehicle. “The eyes were completely wide open," he said. The SUV hit Knapp’s little girl. She was seriously injured but survived.

10:50 a.m. update:

This is how Brooks wraps up most of his crosses: "Are you aware if there is even a plaintiff in this matter? Were you ever contacted by anyone who was identified as the plaintiff in this matter?" The state objects and the judge sustains every time.

Brooks, every time, complains the questions are "relevant" and the jury "deserves" to know if there is a plaintiff in this case. The judge moves it along.

10:30 a.m. update:

Throughout cross-examination, Brooks has repeatedly questioned witness testimony on the possible speed of the SUV. He continues to do that today.

"Would it be fair to say you don't know exactly the speed of the vehicle," asked Brooks?

"Yes, without looking at the speedometer, I would have no way of knowing how exactly fast that vehicle is going," said Harris.

On Monday, a Waukesha police detective said his analysis showed the car, at least at one point, was traveling around 34 miles per hour down Main Street.

10 a.m. update:

The state called Matthew Harris to the stand, the third witness of the day. Harris said his 7-year-old daughter's left foot was run over during the parade attack. She had four broken toes, as well as a broken tibia and fibula.

Brooks cross-examinations have been moving quicker today, a day after the state said they were behind.

9:30 a.m. update:

Adam Bonesteel was the next witness called to the stand. He was driving the float for Citizens Bank. He saw Jane Kulich get hit by the suspect's vehicle during the parade.

"I thought my wife was the woman on the car. You see your whole life going by you," he said.

9 a.m. update:

The state called its first witness, Stephanie Bonesteel. She worked with Jane Kulich, who was killed while walking in the parade. Bonsteel said she was walking with friends and family at the time of the incident.

"I quickly realized that the headlights were coming basically right at me," Bonsteel said.

Stephanie Bonesteel
Stephanie Bonesteel

Here is a portion of Bonesteel's testimony.

Bonesteel: "And that’s when I noticed that there was a person in the street, about where our vehicle was. About, it’s hard to tell exactly where, but next to some part of the vehicle."

District Attorney Opper: "And this person was running, um, forward, um, trying to get out of the way. Do you know who that person was?"

Bonesteel: "At that point, I couldn’t tell exactly who it was. I knew it was someone from our group because I could see the red poncho. And I could see the hat. I should mention Jane was not the only one wearing a hat. There were two others wearing similar hats."

Opper: "Did you see the SUV strike that person?"

Bonesteel: "I did."

8:45 a.m. update:

Darrell Brooks began proceedings Wednesday by attempting to subpoena the State of Wisconsin. Judge Jennifer Dorow told Brooks he had entered an entity not a person, therefore they could not testify.

"Under the 6th amendment I have the right to face my accuser," said Brooks. Judge Dorow will discard the subpoena.


On Tuesday, Brooks returned to court and once again claimed that the court has no jurisdiction to try the defendant.

"I mean, we haven't even established that the plaintiff is a living human being and not an entity," he said.

Survivors of the parade tragedy took the stand, including a mother who saw her daughter lying in the roadway after they were both hit by the SUV. Two women who coached the Waukesha Xtreme Dance Team at the time also testified.

One former coach, Alyssa Grajewski, said she rode with one of the dancers to the hospital in a squad car. She found another student at the hospital with her mother.

As Jamie Sutton, another dance coach testified, victims and their families who were in the gallery were seen gasping and weeping as the state played video evidence.

Jeff Rogers, President of the Waukesha Blazers Baseball Club, also testified. He described finding Jackson Sparks after he was hit by the SUV. Jackson would later succumb to his injuries and would be the youngest person killed in the parade at 8 years old.

"Jackson was motionless on the ground. Eyes open. Didn’t appear to be aware," said Rogers.

After witness testimony, the state told Judge Jennifer Dorow that they were behind. Saung things went much slower Tuesday than expected. The state has been quick with its questioning thus far, but Brooks has questioned each witness at great length.

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