Judge's decision after Brooks, supporters speak

Judge’s decision after Brooks, supporters speak

Darrell Brooks and those who are speaking on his behalf are expected to make their statements in Waukesha County court on Wednesday, Nov. 16 – following Brooks‘ conviction on charges tied to the Waukesha Christmas parade attack in November 2021. 

To begin the day, the prosecution team noted there was one more victim witness statement that was requested to be made by the granddaughter of Virginia Sorenson. Her statement on Tuesday had been interrupted by the clearing of the court due to a threat made at the courthouse. The court agreed to allow that young girl speak – and that statement was read in court once again.

When asked, Brooks indicated to the court that four people would be speaking on his behalf – all via Zoom. 

Dawn Woods, Brooks’ mother, spoke first. She started by speaking about mental illness – that it impacts everyone. Woods called it the “dirty little secret in families that they don’t want to talk about.”

Woods then read to the court the poem, “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,” written by Maya Angelou. Woods told Judge Dorow she hoped it would provide some inspiration to her son. 

Woods finished by speaking to the families of the victims of the Waukesha Christmas parade tragedy.

“To the families who lost loved ones and those who suffered injuries, that I know their pain. And I pray that the Lord will continue to comfort and heal each of them,” Woods said.

Brooks’ grandmother, Mary Edwards, spoke next on Darrell’s behalf. 

“I want to offer my sincere apologies to those hurt,” Edwards said. “It is my expectation my grandson will apologize and ask God for forgiveness.”

Mary Edwards, Darrell Brooks’ grandmother

Michelle Allworth, a longtime friend of Brooks spoke next. She called Brooks her best friend – having known him for 17 years. 

“He shared with me multiple times how remorseful he truly is,” Allworth said.

Brooks’ statement to the court

It was around 12:35 p.m. that Brooks himself was allowed to speak to the court. He began by standing up before the court, looking up, and quoting scripture.

“A lot of references were made to one of the things I said about my consciousness being clear. Having time to think about it last night, the victims have the right to feel how they want to feel.  They have the right to their opinions — lots of anger and emotions,” Brooks said. “I don’t want that comment to be taken out of context; I made the decision to rededicate my life to Christ when this tragedy happened.”

Brooks had been taking notes during the victim statements that were made Tuesday.

“One of the victims made a comment about trying to understand why this happened. That’s a question I struggle with myself. The why, the how,” Brooks said. “How can 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, family, beliefs, I know who I am.  God knows who I am.”

Brooks told the court he does not have any words of anger.

“I had to look inside myself and understand why the comments were made,” Brooks said. 

Brooks referred to the surgical mask he has been wearing throughout the trial proceedings. He told the court it had nothing to do with hiding anything. 

“When you are on TV every day, when your life is being dissected, and your family is on TV and social media platforms, what is there to hide from?” Brooks said.

Brooks then referenced all of the victims of the Waukesha Christmas parade – as well as the people of Waukesha. 

“Not only am I sorry for what happened, I’m sorry that you could not see what is truly in my heart,” Brooks said. “With respect to how I’m viewed, I will not respond to those comments in anger either. I want to also say that, it is not me that can take any pain away, replace what was lost, give back joy, happiness – so many other things lost that day.”

Brooks talked about frustration he said he felt during his trial. 

“I’ve become frustrated at times. I want you, Judge Dorow, to know that regardless to what you might think about those incidents, they were not personal. Being here, throughout this year, the constant learning how to deal with everything, take everything in, what you see, hear, things being shouted at you — the threats and everything you have to deal with just being here. It was a culmination,” Brooks said. “There was a part of me that felt I haven’t been able to defend myself. I think it was just the pot boiling over.”

Brooks told the court that people are going to believe what they want – and that’s OK. 

“This needs to be said. What happened on November 21, 2021 was not, not, not an attack. It was not, not planned, plotted,” Brooks said. “This was not an attack. This was not an intentional act. No matter how many times you say it over and over, it was not.”

Brooks told the court he originally planned to attack Waukesha County District Attorney Sue Opper during this statement. But he chose not to do so after considering the idea.

“You said 31 years you’ve done this. 31 years. Hmm. I don’t believe you are that bright. Yet, I respect you having the resolve to take on something of this magnitude for this community. Can’t do nothing but respect that,” Brooks said.

Waukesha County District Attorney Sue Opper

Brooks made reference to receiving letters and notes from around the world. He said he has received letters from Germany and Belgium. Many of those letters spewed hate for Brooks’ actions, he said. But there were also letters of support.

“The people who have sent letters of support, I thank you for that, it’s not an easy thing to send to the most hated man on earth. I thank you for that. My family thanks you for that,” Brooks said.

Brooks also made particular note of recognizing Erika Patterson, the mother of his daughter. 

“I want you to know I will always have love for you. I refuse to go that route. I always have love for you. Always respect you. We have a beautiful daughter. I haven’t always been right in regards to you,” Brooks said.

Brooks also spoke emotionally of his daughter.

“She’s probably the single-handed reason why I’m still breathing. Such a light, such a light. She doesn’t even understand what is going on, to be able to talk to me when she wants to, see me – she doesn’t get it. I know that,” Brooks said.

Brooks mentioned there had been a lot of references to death during Tuesday’s victim statements. He stated he does not fear death – and is confident of his fate in the afterlife. 

“I’m a million percent confident where I’m going when this is over. I’m a million percent confident where I’m going,” Brooks said. “I’m a human being. I’m not a monster. I’m a human being trying to figure out for 35 years questions I never got the answer to.”

Brooks said he listened to all the victims who had the courage to speak on Tuesday.

“I apologize for not showing people what they wanted to see. I ask that there be understanding to…that there is a side of the courtroom that’s not seen,” Brooks said. “There’s not an day or hour that goes by that I haven’t thought about what’s happened. That I haven’t tried to wrap my head about how something like this could have happened. Where I haven’t thought about the pain that you all are in. What was lost and the fashion that it was lost.”

Brooks mentioned – he will do what he can to press forward and pray for the community of Waukesha.

“As hard as it is, you can’t turn back the hands of time. As much as I wish I had the power to do that, I can’t. I have to look at life going forward, not backward,” Brooks said. “I’ve moved past the actual tragedy of November 21, 2021. But I have not moved past uplifting this community in prayer. The victims and families. I will continue to pray for them. That’s what I want my heart to reflect.”

Late in Brooks’ statement to the court, Judge Dorow asked Brooks what the court should do about the sentences.

“Honestly, your Honor, I don’t want this to be taken out of context — I believe that there are issues with me attempting to answer that,” Brooks said. “I’m still confused on the true nature and cause of the charges. I don’t understand them. I also believe the decision was already made before we even got here. I could be wrong, that’s not a slight or shot towards your Honor.”

When pressed again for how the judge should deal with the sentencing of Brooks, he paused before answering.

“I think I should be able to go somewhere where I can be helped and be properly helped and medicated,” Brooks said. “You have people who know exactly what to do. Exactly what needs to be done and should be done. To be able to properly be medicated. It’s extremely needed.”

FOX6 News will update this post as new statements or information is provided.

Victim impact statements on Tuesday

On Tuesday, 45 victims and survivors shared powerful personal accounts of how the attack impacted them in the first of two sentencing hearings for Brooks. The statements from the dozens of victims and family members was packed with emotion. 

“You have the audacity to say your conscience is clear. That is why you hear the term monster; demon,” said Chris Owen, son of Lee Owen. “I know why you did this. You did this because you weren’t in a cage…All I can ask is that you rot, and you rot slow.”

“You stated you are a God-loving man. You are not. A real man would have stopped and asked for forgiveness – pure evil and not fooling anyone,” said Donald Tiegs, father of Erick who was injured with the Waukesha South Marching Band.

“Every holiday, there will always be an empty chair where Jackson should be…It hurts to breathe sometimes…I’m emotionally and physically exhausted,” said Sheri Sparks, mother of Jackson and Tucker. She finished by adding, “Jackson the other victims deserve closure.”

“Now, I want you to use your imagination a little bit,” said David Sorenson, widower of Virginia Sorenson. “When it thunders, I imagine that Jackson is blasting a home run over the fence. When there is a rainbow, I will imagine the Dancing Grannies — Ginny, Tammy, Lee and Bill — with them dancing along its lines. When there is a ray of sunshine poking through the clouds, I will imagine it is Jane smiling down on us. When it snows, like it did this morning, I will imagine God’s love giving us a blanket in comfort. When I see a blue light, I see this community’s commitment to help heal and support each other. “

“The terror, the horror, the pain, the fear that you’ve caused to so many individuals, and everyone has their own unique path for healing. I hope that you will get sentenced to what you deserve,” said Dylan Yourell, father of Xtreme Dance Team victim.

Waukesha County D.A. Sue Opper’s statement

Following the victims’ statements to the court, Waukesha County District Attorney Sue Opper spoke to the court. She began by rattling off Brooks’ extensive criminal record. 

“This man has a history and a pattern of engaging in violence, and it was no different on Nov. 21, 2021,” Opper said. “I’m not going to spend a lot of time talking about the attack, and I choose to call it an attack instead of referring to it as the parade. There’s nothing wrong with the parade. The parade is good. The parade is the embodiment of the community.”

Opper went on to tell Judge Dorow Brooks’ actions were acts of a coward.

“Very few of the victims who were struck had any idea this car was barrelling down on them,” Opper said. “They had no way to know it was coming, and he mowed over them, ran them over without any ability to defend themselves. What is so offensive about this conduct, your Honor, is, obviously, the violent nature of it, but even more so, the defendant’s conduct and behavior in this court, his complete lack of decorum and respect for the court.”

Opper stated in court Brooks takes advantage of everyone.

SIGN UP TODAY: Get daily headlines, breaking news emails from FOX6 News

“He’s extremely manipulative. He absolutely thinks he’s in control of everything, when in fact, as he sits here in custody, he’s in control of nothing,” Opper said.

Final judgment

After Brooks and his witnesses have had a chance to speak, Judge Dorow will hand down her sentence and explain her reasoning tied to the charges. In the end, Brooks faces the consecutive six life sentences plus 859 years in prison.

The jury found Brooks guilty of six counts of first-degree intentional homicide. Each count carries a mandatory life sentence in Wisconsin. Judge Dorow has discretion over the other 70 counts — a decision that will come Wednesday.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.