WI v. Darrell Brooks: Deadly Parade Crash Trial

Posted at 9:02 AM, October 3, 2022 and last updated 8:14 PM, July 13, 2023

By Chanley Painter

WAUKESHA, Wis. (Court TV) — The man convicted of killing six people and injuring dozens of others at a Christmas parade in 2021 was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of extended supervision nearly a month after a jury found him guilty of all 76 charges. In total, Darrell Brooks received six consecutive life terms plus an additional 762 years.


Brooks’ mother, grandmother and a friend spoke on his behalf beforehand. Brooks delivered remarks, too, and had to be cut off at roughly the two-hour mark so Judge Jennifer Dorow could get on with sentencing. Brooks had to be removed from the courtroom twice during the judge’s emotionally charged remarks.

Each victim’s name was read aloud by Judge Dorow as she announced Brooks’ punishment.

Prosecutors argued Brooks intentionally drove an SUV through the annual Waukesha Christmas Parade on Nov. 21, 2021, striking dozens of spectators and participants. Six people died and 61 were injured as the red Ford Escape accelerated into the barricaded parade route and veered into crowds for five blocks.

It wasn’t until an officer fired his gun three times at the SUV that the driver left the parade route. The vehicle crashed in a nearby neighborhood. Brooks was apprehended at a resident’s front porch.

Investigators said, at the time of the incident, Brooks had two outstanding cases against him and a criminal history dating back to 1999. The defendant had been released from jail just days before. The day of the incident, he violated his bond conditions by meeting with his ex-girlfriend, Erica Patterson. Patterson testified he physically assaulted her during the meeting before driving off towards the parade.

This undated photo provided by the Waukesha County Sheriff’s Department shows Darrell Brooks, the suspect in a Christmas parade crash in suburban Milwaukee.  (Waukesha County Sheriff’s Department via AP)

While Brooks’ alleged motive, if any, for wreaking havoc at the parade remains unknown, the criminal complaint explains that the mayhem immediately followed this domestic incident in what prosecutors may call an anger-fueled rampage.

About a week before his trial, Brooks’ public defenders filed a motion to withdraw as his attorneys, citing Brook’s intention to represent himself. During a hearing on the matter, Brooks told Judge Jennifer R. Dorow that he wanted to represent himself because his attorneys haven’t explained the “nature and cause” of the charges.

In granting his request, Judge Dorow stated, “The bottom line is, I cannot make a finding based upon the record before me that Mr. Brooks suffers from a major mental illness that would interfere with his ability to represent himself.”

Brooks stood trial in the same county and town where the tragedy occurred. The jurors were called to a courthouse that is just minutes from East Main Street where, less than a year ago, dozens of fellow community members suffered from the bloodshed.





DAY 15 – 10/26/22

DAY 14 – 10/25/22

DAY 13 – 10/24/22

DAY 12 – 10/21/22

DAY 11 – 10/20/22

DAY 10 – 10/19/22

DAY 9 – 10/18/22

  • Jurors heard testimony from one witness on the stand for the state Tuesday and one witness for the defense, who testified out of order due to the need for a Spanish interpreter.
  • Detective Jay Carpenter recounted his conversation with Brooks after his arrest shortly after the Christmas parade attack. Prosecutors played an audio recording of Brooks speaking with Carpenter, another Waukesha detective, and two FBI agents at Waukesha Memorial Hospital.
    • “Brooks seemed to be surprised” those FBI agents were there, Carpenter said.
    • Brooks was at the hospital complaining of shoulder pain after he alleged police officers slammed him down during his arrest.
    • Carpenter explained that he kept the conversation light and talked to Brooks about his children, sports, and high school. Brooks eventually told Carpenter that he did not want to speak with him.
    • Brooks was transported to the Muskego Police Department because the Waukesha police department was under construction and did not have a secure holding cell.
    • During Brook’s second interrogation, the day after the parade attack, police questioned Brooks about the domestic incident at Frame Park with his ex-girlfriend Erika Patterson. Brooks claimed he never touched Patterson, and she lured him to the park with the expectation of returning his money.
    • He allegedly told Patterson, “I’m not supposed to be around you. I love you to death. I’ll meet with you to get the money. I’m not going to hang out with you.”
    • Brooks told investigators he came to Waukesha on November 21, 2021, to watch the Packers game with a friend at a house. He claimed that he left his coat at home and only wore flip-flops because he rode with a friend and had not planned to go elsewhere. He continued saying that he did not have a license or a vehicle.
    • “Carp (referring to Carpenter), you’ve been straight with me. I just want to know what am I looking at, so I can let my girls know,” Brooks said.
    • WATCH: Deadly Parade Crash Trial: Detective Outlines Brooks’ Police Interview
  • The first witness for the defense testified through an interpreter between Detective Carpenter’s testimony. Juan Marquez marched in the parade with his wife and son with the Catholic Communities of Waukesha. Marquez remembered being hit by a vehicle and his body flew 15 to 20 feet in the air. He suffered a broken leg and torn ligaments.
    • During the cross-examination of Marquez, Brooks was warned to stop the commentary. After several warnings, Brooks was tossed from the courtroom and moved to the adjoining courtroom. Judge Dorow noted that Brooks interrupted ten times because he disagreed with the ruling of his objections.
    • WATCH: Deadly Parade Crash Trial: First Defense Witness Testifies, Defendant Removed
    • The judge allowed him to return to the courtroom if he would be respectful of the court and follow decorum.
    • “I didn’t do anything in the first place. Removing me from the courtroom is like holding me in contempt,” Brooks said.
    • Judge Dorow explained that she had not held him in contempt. She explained that allowing Brooks to “profit” from his wrongdoing, there would be a delay in the trial, and that was not what she was willing to do.
    • Brooks was allowed to return to the trial courtroom.
  • Detective Carpenter’s testimony continued after Marquez was off the stand.
    • “Yesterday was a mistake, and I should have just watched the game,” Brooks said after being told that he was not telling the truth.
    • Carpenter told jurors that they knew Brooks did not walk to Frame Park to meet Patterson but drove his mother’s red Ford Escape to the park and through the parade route. Brooks responded that he was “getting railroaded” and asked, “what was going on and what he was charged with.”
    • Brooks never told law enforcement that someone else was driving the SUV.
    • “A lot of people got hurt,” Carpenter told Brooks.
    • Brooks responded, “Are you serious? Like, bad? A stroller? So a kid got hurt?” He then joked and laughed.
    • Carpenter said Brooks never asked how any of the victims were doing. Brooks never asked why he drove through the parade or what was going through his mind.
    • WATCH: Deadly Parade Crash Trial: Jury Views Video of Brooks Denying Responsibility
    • During the almost three-hour cross-examination, Brooks asked why the detainee was questioned at the hospital versus the police station. Carpenter reminded the court that Brooks was questioned at Waukesha Memorial Hospital after Brooks complained of shoulder pain.
    • The focus of the questioning turned to the FBI’s presence during his interrogation. Brooks was told that they were there because the police department was short-staffed. It was later revealed that the FBI was trying to determine whether the attack at the parade was a terrorist attack.
    • Brooks asked many questions about police policies regarding interrogations and Miranda. Judge Dorow gave Brooks some leeway in his questioning but warned Brooks not to ask questions on legal issues that are not relevant.
    • Carpenter was asked why he chose to read Brooks Miranda rights 15 minutes into the interrogation.
    • I’m not required to read them immediately,” said Carpenter.
    • Carpenter continued saying that he was gauging Brooks’ truthfulness before he gave him specific details.

DAY 8 – 10/17/22

DAY 7 – 10/14/22

  • Friday, jurors heard from law enforcement who attended the parade off-duty and one that tried to stop the red SUV with deadly force.
  • Before testimony began, Darrell Brooks raised an issue with the paperwork he received from the Clerk of Court’s office. Judge Jennifer Dorow repeatedly told Brooks that he needed to take the matter up with the court’s clerk, and she would not address the issue further.
    • Judge Dorow’s response did not stop Brooks from questioning loudly as the jury entered the courtroom. The jury was asked to disregard Brooks’ comments and return to the jury room until the matter was resolved.
    • Dorow said the issues that Brooks was raising were irrelevant and threatened to have Brooks removed to the adjacent courtroom if the interruptions continued. The exchange began heated that the judge asked for a “cool down” period before testimony started for the day. On Thursday, Brooks interrupted proceedings 17 times, including a 50-minutes argument to dismiss his case.
  • Craig Liermann, the City of Franklin’s Assistant Police Chief, who was off-duty, attended the parade with his family. Liermann testified that the red SUV came through the parade route revving higher than the other vehicles in the procession. He was about 10 feet from the SUV and could see the driver and describe him in detail.
  • Jurors heard from Officer Bryce Scholten, Waukesha Police Department, stationed at the end of the parade route. Scholten said he started hearing radio traffic regarding a fight at Frame Park and a community service officer requesting an ambulance for a person “hit.” He said it was hard to piece everything together.
    • Scholten walked away from his post into the parade route. He could hear screams and the blur of a red vehicle approaching his direction. Once he realized what had happened, Scholten decided to “use deadly force” and began shooting at the SUV as it passed him.
    • Scholten said, “The vehicle seemed so close he could’ve touched it.” Only one person was in the SUV, and the person identified was Darrell Brooks Jr.
    • On cross-examination, Brooks asked Scholten if he was “shooting to kill?”
    • “No. I am trained to stop the threat. You were the threat,” Scholten replied.
  • A Waukesha police officer, who was off-duty and participated in the parade, testified that he heard the radio traffic after he returned to the police station. He quickly changed and headed back to the parade route. He was flagged down by a man who said he knew where the red SUV was parked – near Maple and Main Streets – finding the vehicle in a driveway.
    • Moss testified that clothing was embedded in the hood, and the border of a Santa hat was hanging on the driver’s side view mirror. The license plate returned to Brooks’ mother, and the paperwork inside the SUV belonging to Brooks.
    • Brooks was arrested a few blocks away.
    • Judge Dorow paused Brooks’ cross-examination and sent the jury for a short recess. Brooks was trying to ask the witness about media coverage, and he claimed the judge ignored his objections.
    • “I am an umpire of this court, sir,” Dorow said.
    • “Are you kidding me?” Brooks replied.
    • The exchange about bias then transitioned to Brooks’ claims of jurisdiction. Judge Dorow issued a written ruling regarding Brooks’ claims and said the matter would not be addressed again.
  • WATCH: Deadly Parade Crash Trial: Spectator Ralph Salyers Testifies

DAY 6 – 10/13/22

  • After an early dismissal Wednesday due to severe weather, prosecutors picked up where they left off with witness testimony.
  • Jurors heard testimony from a member of the Milwaukee Dancing Grannies dance troupe. Laura Thein testified that she was a close friend to everyone on the team. Thein testified that she saw members of her dance group and the husband of one of the dancers being struck by a “flash of red.”
  • The testimony was difficult for gallery members, and a couple of jurors cried during Thein’s version of events.
  • There was a pause in court proceedings mid-morning after Thein’s testimony. Darrell Brooks went on a 50-minute rant, calling for a dismissal of the charges against him. He cited several reasons why the trial was “illegal.”
  • The district attorney, Susan Opper, said this was “nothing more than legal mumbo jumbo.” Brooks “had an agenda” and wanted to continue to “stall, delay, and disrupt” the trial proceedings, Opper said.
  • Brooks did not like Opper’s interpretation of his comments. He countered by saying that Opper’s response was “a load of crap.”
  • Judge Jennifer Dorow denied his request calling his arguments frivolous. She said, “the trial will keep going.”
  • Following the lunch break, two medical examiners from the County of Waukesha testified they conducted the autopsy for the six people killed during the parade. The primary cause of death for all the victims – they all died from injuries related to blunt force trauma.

DAY 5 – 10/12/22

  • In Wednesday’s proceedings, jurors heard from Stefanie Bonesteel. She participated in the parade with her co-workers from Citizens Bank. About 15 people marched alongside the Citizen Bank float, including herself and her two kids. Her husband was driving their float truck.
  • Bonesteel testified, seeing headlights coming straight toward her. The vehicle was a few feet away but veered off, striking Jane Kulich from behind. She remembered seeing Kulich above the vehicle’s roof before the SUV went out of sight. The next thing she remembered was looking for her children. They were unharmed.
  • Adam Bonesteel, who was driving the float, said he watched a woman running toward his truck from his side view mirror. He saw “the body fly up onto the hood and her body and snap back. I thought I could reach out and grab her.” He continued and told the jury that he saw Jane Kulich fall on the hood of the SUV, and she was then run over. He (Adam Bonesteel) thought the SUV was going about 30 mph, and Bonesteel was going about two mph.
  • Before Brooks asked questions of Adam Bonesteel, he asked the judge for a moment and appeared overwhelmed. You could hear him mumble, “get yourself together.” Bonesteel seemed to be emotional as well during the brief pause.
  • Parade attendee Matthew Harris was there with his two daughters, ages 7 and 3. He heard an “eerie sound of fear” but could not see what was happening because large vehicles were blocking his view. Once he could see what was causing the disturbance, he yelled, “get back” to his group. His oldest daughter’s foot was run over by the SUV. Another girl in the group with them was brushed by the vehicle.
  • The final witness of the day was Daniel Knapp. He attended the parade with his wife and three children, including his daughter, that was hit. Knapp said the car coming at them was “very unexpected.” He told jurors that he saw the SUV hit his daughter and that she “flew” 15 feet toward Clinton Street. He picked up his daughter, not knowing if another car was coming, and took her to the hospital for treatment. When questioned about her injuries, he said she suffered an injury to her spleen and needed “some facial surgery.”
  • Brooks questioned Knapp about telling detectives a few days after the attack that he remembered seeing a black male with facial hair and long hair. Knapp clarified that he doesn’t remember seeing the driver because he was fixated on his family. He remembered that it was a “black male with facial hair and wide eyes.”
  • The questioning then turned to skin complexion. Brooks questioned the fact that Knapp said the driver had a dark complexion. Knapp clarified, saying the driver “does not have a dark complexion.”
  • Court proceedings ended early Wednesday due to tornadic weather in Milwaukee and surrounding areas.

DAY 4 – 10/11/22

  • Tuesday, prosecutors began focusing on the victims of the Waukesha Christmas Parade attack that occurred in November 2021.
  • Kelly Grabow, an employee with Burris Logistics Group, and her daughter were among those struck by Brooks’ car. Grabow testified how she found her daughter under debris left behind after the red SUV drove through the parade route. She said she ignored her pain to help her daughter. Grabow suffered from a leg injury, bruising, and road rash. Her daughter sustained a broken hand and massive bruising on her back.
  • The president of the Waukesha Blazers, Jeff Rogers, testified about Jackson Sparks’ death and his team members were injured. Sparks was the youngest of six people who died two days after the SUV struck him. Sparks and his brother Tucker were marching with other members of the youth baseball team.
  • Rogers said he scrambled to find the young team members after the SUV drove through the parade, moving some of the injured into the truck and escorting them to a nearby antique shop. As he continued to look for the kids, he saw Jackson Sparks lying on the ground. He had been “badly injured.”
  • Another coach, Joshua Kraner, testified that he heard “horrific” screaming. When he turned to look at what was happening, he saw a red SUV and people running to get out of the way. As he turned to look for his son, he was struck by the vehicle. He sustained muscle contusions and bone bruises.
  • There were two witnesses from the Xtreme Dance Group who testified. Fifteen of their participants were injured.
  • Alyssa Gajewski emotionally described how the dancers marched along, unaware of the approaching vehicle. On cross-examination, Gajewski said she could see the vehicle’s make and model but could not see the driver. Gajewski was not struck by the vehicle. She “blacked out” for several seconds of what was happening around her.
  • The team leader standing in the back of the group, Jaimie Sutton, heard someone yelling behind her. She looked over her shoulder and saw the vehicle hitting some dancers.
  • One of the final witnesses, Detective Mike Carpenter, Waukesha Police Department, conducted the speed analysis to determine how fast the SUV was traveling as it traveled down the parade route.
  • Carpenter used video footage, computer analysis, and 3-D imaging for his calculations. He testified the SUV was moving 33.7 to 34 mph. Although this was Carpenter’s first time using the software, he was confident with his results.
  • WATCH: Deadly Parade Crash Trial: Injured Parade Spectator Testifies
  • Brooks’ Subpoenas
    • Brooks submitted 12 subpoenas to the court. Prosecutors are working to have all of his witnesses served and assisting in arranging their appearances. He continues to press for his 13th subpoena for a witness that now lives out of state in Texas.
    • Brooks told the court Monday that he does not know how to arrange travel from jail and that he is “broke.”
    • The state is not obligated to help produce the witness on Brooks’ behalf.
  • Sovereign Citizen
    • Throughout the day, Brooks continued to argue his “sovereign citizen” request that the court proves the “subject matter of jurisdiction.” Judge Dorow has denied his objections multiple times during the trial. Brooks seems to continue to pursue the matter each day.
    • “I have not been provided proof of subject matter jurisdiction,” Brooks said. The court is not required to provide to show proof.
    • Judge Dorow said Brooks’ “sovereign citizen” arguments had been debunked throughout the ages in the United States of America courts in state and federal courts.

DAY 3 – 10/10/22

DAY 2 – 10/7/22

DAY 1 – 10/6/22


  • Wednesday’s final pretrial hearing was supposed to cover administrative and procedural items. We learned that Darrell Brooks submitted a motion for adjournment. Brooks said he was on a COVID-19 protocol.
  • Brook said he notified jail officials that he was fatigued and had lost his sense of taste. He was taken to the infirmary and took a COVID test, and the results were due Friday. Judge Jennifer Dorow asked Brooks multiple times if he wanted to take a rapid test to learn his result sooner. Brooks informed the court that he was fully vaccinated and was afraid because several of his family members died due to COVID. But he continued to refuse a rapid test.
  • District Attorney Susan Opper argued this was another delay tactic. Brooks had been trying to delay the trial for months.
  • Angela Wollenhaupt, the Waukesha County jail administrator, was called to the stand to verify Brooks’ current status. Wollenhaupt did confirm that Brooks was under COVID protocol. She asked not to disclose the protocols of jail procedures.
  • Brooks constantly objected to the questioning and interrupting court proceedings. Judge Dorow moved him to another courtroom, where he could see the proceedings through a video feed.
  • The court provided him signs when he wanted to communicate with the other courtroom. He could be seen on the video monitor holding an objection card in front of the camera.
  • Judge Dorow ultimately denied Brooks’ request for an adjournment. She said that Brooks could safely be brought into the courtroom following COVID practices advised by the CDC and the Wisconsin Health Department.

JURY SELECTION – (10/3-10/4)

  • The first day of jury selection was delayed due to constant outbursts from defendant Darrell Brooks, who is representing himself.
  • The next day, before jury selection could resume, Brooks had another outburst in the trial courtroom and was sent to the courtroom next door. He can watch and respond to the proceedings via an internal video system. While in the courtroom, he stands and rocks side to side or sits in his chair and swivels.
  • A jury of 16 (10 White men and 6 White women) is selected.

Court TV Digital Content Manager Ivy Brown and field producer Tiffany Smith contributed to this report.