Man accused in Wisconsin parade deaths pleads not guilty

Posted at 10:43 AM, February 11, 2022 and last updated 8:15 PM, July 13, 2023

WAUKESHA, Wis. (AP) — A Milwaukee man accused of killing six people and injuring dozens more when he drove an SUV through a suburban Christmas parade pleaded not guilty Friday to scores of criminal charges.

Darrell Brooks Jr., 39, entered the pleas to 77 charges, including six counts of homicide and multiple counts of reckless endangerment, during a court appearance that lasted less than five minutes. Brooks’ attorneys filed for a change of venue in the case on Thursday, but it’s not clear when that motion will be considered. He remains jailed on $5 million bail.

FILE – Darrell Brooks, center, is escorted out of the courtroom after making his initial appearance, Tuesday, Nov. 23, 2021, in Waukesha County Court in Waukesha, Wis. Prosecutors added dozens of charges Wednesday, Jan. 12, 2022, against Brooks, accused of driving his SUV through a Christmas parade in suburban Milwaukee last year. The additional charges include multiple counts of reckless endangerment, hit-and-run involving death, bail jumping and battery. (Mark Hoffman/Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel via AP, Pool, File)

Last month, court Commissioner Kevin Costello said prosecutors had presented “ample” evidence to show Brooks probably committed felonies and ordered him to stand trial.

During the preliminary hearing, police detective Thomas Casey testified that he and other officers yelled at Brooks to stop as he drove the SUV through the parade in downtown Waukesha on Nov. 21.

He described how the vehicle zigzagged across the street for blocks, smashing into marchers from behind and running them over. He said Brooks injured 61 people, including the six people he killed.

Brooks’ attorney, public defender Anna Kees, maintained that he couldn’t turn off the parade route because the side streets were barricaded and full of spectators. She noted, too, that he told detectives that he didn’t mean to kill anyone and couldn’t bring himself to look when detectives showed him photos of the carnage.