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‘Coward’ Drove into and Murdered Waukesha Paradegoers After Beating His Ex-Girlfriend, Jurors Hear


Darrell Brooks, the man who allegedly murdered six people by ramming his SUV through a Christmas parade, had been fleeing after punching his ex-girlfriend, a prosecutor said during opening statements. Assistant District Attorney Zachary Wittchow said Brooks “took the coward’s way out” when it became apparent that police were going to get involved.

Brooks, 40, recently walked back his plea of not guilty by reason of insanity. He has been representing himself since last week. Judge Jennifer Dorow kicked him out of court repeatedly. She maintained he was being disruptive for the purpose of delaying trial. Friction peaked before jury instructions on Thursday. Brooks refused to change out of his jailhouse clothes into a suit, and he took off his shirt.

Often sitting in another courtroom, he was linked to the main courtroom through a livestream and can hear proceedings. Now back to wearing his shirt, he laughed when Kori Runkel, a friend of his ex-girlfriend Erika Patterson, testified that he threatened to kill Patterson.

Brooks faces dozens of charges. Foremost are first-degree intentional homicide charges for killing six people: Jackson Sparks, 8, Tamara Durand, 52, Jane Kulich, 52, Leanna “Lee” Owen, 71, Virginia Sorenson, 79, and Wilhelm Hospel, 81.

Wittchow told jurors in opening statements on Thursday that Brooks engaged in a “violent domestic argument” with Patterson, the mother of his child, on Nov. 21, 2021. He said that Patterson will testify that she was staying at a women’s center. Brooks showed up in Waukesha in his red Ford Escape SUV. He argued with her, harassed her, punched her the face, and took her all over town that afternoon, the prosecutor said.

“The thing about a swollen eye is it’s tough to fake,” Wittchow said.

At some point, after Brooks hit her, Erika called her friends for help, the prosecutor said. Runkel, a roommate at the women’s center, responded. Brooks suggested when cross-examining her on Thursday that she could not know it was him in the vehicle because she had never seen the “boyfriend” before or knew what car he would be driving.

Runkel said that she knew who it was because Patterson told her about going to meet “Darrell Brooks.”

To be clear, Brooks, who is a self-professed “sovereign citizen,” has been avoiding discussing himself in the first person.

So-called sovereign citizens assert that the government holds no true, legal sway over them because they, not the government, are the “sovereign.”

Runkel arrived on Patterson’s behalf in front of the White Rocks School. As seen on surveillance footage, she got into a physical and verbal altercation with Brooks, Wittchow said. The prosecutor told jurors they would see what Brooks would react once “he lost his physical advantage over a woman.”

Police were called. There was a marked car nearby. Brooks must have known officers were going to show up once things go loud, the prosecutors said.

“So he took the coward’s way out,” the prosecutor said.

With no one else in the car, Brooks got in the SUV and drove off, Wittchow said. He struck dozens of people, starting with survivor Nicole White and ending with 19 victims with the Catholic Communities of Waukesha, the prosecutor said.

After striking Nicole, Brooks was legally required to stop the vehicle, the prosecutor said. Not only did he fail to stop, evidence will show he sped up, Wittchow said. As Brooks’ body count increased, so did his motive to get away, the prosecutor said.

Brooks said he is saving his opening statement for after the state rests their case.

[Screenshot via Law&Crime Network]

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