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It Didn’t Take Long for Waukesha Parade Attack Suspect to Get Kicked Out of Court and Go Shirtless


Homicide defendant Darrell Brooks, 40, got was out of court and took off his shirt mere minutes into the first day of his trial for killing six people at a parade in Waukesha, Wisconsin last November.

Brooks has been representing himself since splitting from his public defenders last week, and things have been rocky.

After he showed up to court on Thursday wearing jail orange, Judge Jennifer Dorow repeatedly asked Brooks if he wanted to put on a suit, noting that doing so would be helpful to his case. Brooks suggested that putting on a suit would be futile because it’s well publicized that he is in jail. The judge, however, found his answer to be unresponsive.

Brooks is charged as the person who rammed an SUV through the Waukesha Christmas parade last year, killing six people: Jackson Sparks, 8, Tamara Durand, 52, Jane Kulich, 52, Leanna “Lee” Owen, 71, Virginia Sorenson, 79, and Wilhelm Hospel, 81.

The encounter on Thursday continued a week-long pattern since Brooks’ hearing in which he fired his attorneys and insisted on representing himself. He has described himself as a “sovereign citizen” or, as he later said, “sovereign.” So-called sovereign citizens assert that the government holds no true, legal sway over them because they, not the government, are the “sovereign.”

As seen on footage from Thursday, Brooks’ repeated interruptions resulted in him being hauled into another courtroom, linked by a video stream and audio feed that Dorow’s court could control. The proceedings continued after a brief recess. For the record, the judge said she was told Brooks would not sit down. He was resisting, she said. He took off a shoe, and it appeared to deputies that he was going to throw it.

Brooks could be seen with his back to the camera and his shirt off. Dorow said she was told he was threatening to throw and break items. She noted that he said he wanted headphones because he had trouble hearing out of one ear. The judge said she declined because of his threats to throw and break things.

Eventually, Brooks put his shirt back on and got his headphones.

Dorow on Thursday construed Brooks’ actions as him just trying to delay trial and make a mockery of this process. She impressed on him during the hearing last week that he would be at a disadvantage at trial in facing a team of veteran prosecutors by himself. She said she would not delay the proceedings for this and warned it would be difficult for her to find him new representation if he later decided he did not want to represent himself.

Prosecutor Susan Opper on Thursday maintained Brooks was “100 percent competent” for trial.

“He is coherent,” she told the court. “He is intelligent.”

She asserted his actions were deliberate and intentional, and that his behavior has escalated since Aug. 25 and intensified as the trial approached.

Since at least last week, Brooks has engaged in a constant back and forth with Dorow, even refusing to take certain documents and take issue with words she used in court.

It’s a matter of course that most criminal defendants appear in court wearing formal attire in order to put their best foot forward for jurors and to avoid looking guilty. Brooks on Thursday refused to put on a suit.

“My position has not changed whatsoever, and it will not change as it is my right to come into court how I would like to,” he said.

After the jury was brought in, the judge began instructing them on the charges against Brooks. The defendant, still on mute, could be seen holding up a white sign with the word “objection” on it.

[Screenshot via Law&Crime Network]

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