Judge sets October trial for man in Wisconsin parade deaths

Associated Press

Waukesha, Wis. – A judge set an October trial date Friday for a man accused of driving his SUV into a Christmas parade in suburban Milwaukee last year.

Prosecutors allege Darrell Brooks Jr. drove through the parade in downtown Waukesha on Nov. 21, running over spectators and marchers indiscriminately. Six people were killed and scores more hurt. Brooks has pleaded not guilty to more than 70 charges, including six homicide counts.

Waukesha County Circuit Judge Jennifer Darow scheduled Brooks’ trial to begin Oct. 3 and run through Oct. 28. Prosecutors told her they would likely need five to seven days to present their case. Brooks’ attorneys said they didn’t know how much time they would need.

This undated photo provided by the Waukesha County Sheriff's Department shows Darrell Brooks, Jr.

Darow acknowledged during the hearing that she knows the father of one of people who were killed. She said her family has hired him in the past to perform legal work for them, he donated $500 to her judicial campaign and she offered him her condolences after the parade via text messages. She said she hasn’t interacted with him since those texts and pledged to officiate the case impartially.

Darow also ordered both sides to begin drafting a survey to mail to prospective jurors in Waukesha County to gauge whether an impartial jury can be selected in the county. The judge made the move after Brooks’ attorney filed a motion last month seeking to move the trial out of Waukesha County or pull jurors from another county because publicity about Brooks has been so pervasive and negative.

Brooks’ attorneys noted in the motion that the community has adopted a “Waukesha Strong” slogan, people built a temporary memorial to the dead and media outlets have used photos of Brooks in court in chains. They also pointed out that first lady Jill Biden visited Waukesha and her remarks calling the parade crash a “tragedy” were widely reported. On social media, people have called for Brooks should be put to death, they added.