Waukesha Parade Suspect Is Changing His Plea

Lawyer says Darrell Brooks is mounting insanity defense
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jun 20, 2022 6:45 PM CDT
Waukesha Parade Suspect Is Mounting Insanity Defense
Darrell Brooks Jr. enters the Waukesha County Courthouse courtroom in Waukesha, Wis., on March 29, 2022.   (Mike De Sisti/Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel via AP, Pool, File)

(Newser) – A man accused of killing six people and injuring dozens more when he allegedly drove his SUV through a Christmas parade in suburban Milwaukee last year has decided to mount an insanity defense, his attorneys said Monday. Darrell Brooks Jr. faces more than 80 charges, including six homicide counts, in connection with the Nov. 21 incident in Waukesha. He pleaded not guilty in February. During a hearing Monday, one of his attorneys, Jeremy Perri, told Judge Jennifer Dorow that Brooks is changing his plea to not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect, the AP reports. Perri did not elaborate. The judge ordered a mental evaluation for Brooks.

When a defendant enters such a plea under Wisconsin law, a judge or jury must determine whether he's guilty of the alleged crime or not. If the defendant is found guilty, a judge or jury must determine whether the defendant was mentally responsible for his conduct at the time of the offense. Such a determination could result in the defendant being committed to a mental health facility rather than prison. Perri announced the change after Dorow refused a defense request to move the trial out of Waukesha County or bring in jurors from outside the county. Perri has argued that publicity has been so intense and so overwhelmingly negative that Brooks can't get a fair trial in the county.

Dorow said that she has found media coverage has been prolific but objective and that jurors aren't required to be ignorant of a case. The criminal complaint detailing the charges against Brooks describes how he allegedly drove into crowds of onlookers during the parade. People bounced off his vehicle as police ordered him to stop. Police arrested Brooks later that night. Brooks is being held on a $5 million cash bond. He said nothing throughout the proceeding Monday. His trial had been scheduled to begin Oct. 3 and last all month. It wasn't immediately clear if that date will stand, given Brooks' new plea. (Read more Darrell Brooks stories.)

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