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‘Who Is You?’: Darrell Brooks Tries to Trip Up Waukesha Parade Witness During Awkward Cross-Examination


Cross-examination was contentious on Monday as Waukesha parade murder defendant Darrell Brooks tried to trip up a witness in his trial.

“Who is ‘you’?” said Brooks, trying to suggest that Sean Backler misidentified him as a trespasser. “Who is ‘you‘?

Brooks, who is representing himself at trial, initially fled after abusing his ex-girlfriend and then plowed a red SUV through the Waukesha Christmas parade on Nov. 21, 2021, prosecutors said. Authorities said he murdered six people: Jackson Sparks, 8, Tamara Durand, 52, Jane Kulich, 52, Leanna “Lee” Owen, 71, Virginia Sorenson, 79, and Wilhelm Hospel, 81.

Prosecutors are using testimony from Backler and others to establish Brooks’ actions fleeing the site of the tragedy. Backler testified he was working around his yard on Central Avenue. His garage was open, he testified. He was aware of the parade but did not attend it, he said. He testified he went to check after hearing noise around the east side of the garage. He said he found a man there — namely, Brooks.

The witness said he did not know this man’s identity at the time, but he saw his mugshot in the Waukesha murder case the next morning and recognized him.

“I asked him what in the f-ing hell was he going,” Backler said. Brooks was trespassing, he said.

He said during direct examination that he spoke to Brooks a little bit. Brooks asked if Backler could call an Uber, according to testimony.

“I need to get home,” Brooks allegedly said. Backler refused and told him to leave his yard. Brooks eventually complied with that, though he repeatedly asked for an Uber, according to the testimony.

Shown surveillance footage in court, Backler identified Brooks as the trespasser. He also repeatedly identified him in court — something Brooks challenged him on over and over again. Brooks suggested that Backler got his height and weight wrong in the description to police in a non-emergency call.

“Best of my knowledge was that you were either Black, Latino, or mixed,” Backler said, as Brooks cut him off.

“Who is ‘you?'” Brooks said. “Who is ‘you?'”

Judge Jennifer Dorow told Brooks to let Backler answer a question before interrupting him with another one.

Backler reiterated the description.

“So it would be fair to say you didn’t know at the time?” Brooks said.

“I was giving a general description,” Backler said.

“So it would be fair to say that you weren’t sure,” Brooks said.

“I was positive that it was you,” Backler said.

“Who is ‘you?'” Brooks said.

“You,” said Backler. “I’m looking at you.”

“And how did you come to that conclusion? The ‘you?’ conclusion?” Brooks said.

Backler pointed his finger at Brooks. “I’m looking at you.”

“How did you come to that conclusion?” Brooks said.

Backler asked him to restate the question.

“You’re saying that you gave a description on the non-emergency phone line, correct?” Brooks said.

“It was on a non-emergency line,” Backler said.

“So it would be fair to say at that time, you had no name or knowledge of who the person was in your backyard,” Brooks said. “Would that be fair to say?”

“I had no idea who you were,” Backler said.

“And so how can you say ‘You’ then if had no idea,” Brooks said.

“I’m looking at you,” Backler said. “You’re the guy.”

“And how did you come to that conclusion?” Brooks said.

“You and I were standing in the same air looking at each other,” Backler said.

“So is it possible you saw something on the news?” Brooks said.

“No, I had no idea who you were,” Backler said.

“Interesting,” Brooks said.

This approach informed a substantial chunk of the cross-examination.

“I’m looking into your eyes right now,” Backler said. “You’re the guy I am talking about when I refer to ‘You.'”

“What would you prefer I call you?” Backler later said during questioning. “Because you’re not going by Darrell Brooks.”

Brooks, who described himself as a “sovereign citizen” and later as “sovereign,” has repeatedly objected to being called his name in court, and has previously filed a subpoena for the “State of Wisconsin” to testify. On Monday, he questioned about Backler about his subpoena to testify and who it named as the plaintiff in this trial. Backler said he believed it was the city of Waukesha or the state of Wisconsin.

“Would it be fair to say that’s not a living, breathing human being?” Brooks said.

Waukesha County District Attorney Susan Opper successfully objected on relevance.

“Are you aware that only a living, breathing human being can make a claim?” said Brooks, repeating his question before Judge Dorow told him to move to a different subject.

So-called sovereign citizens assert that the government holds no true, legal sway over them because they are the “sovereign.” Court has not gone completely off the rails during trial. It’s more stable than the recent pre-trial and jury selection period, when Dorow early and often kicked Brooks out of court. The defendant even took his shirt off at one point.

Brooks eventually made an apology to the court, but friction continues, with him making audible comments and other gestures about Dorow’s decisions in court.

“Definitely not argumentative,” Brooks said in court on Monday.

Other witnesses Monday revealed similar stories as Backler’s. Brooks approached them while seeking an Uber ride, they said. Police arrested him at the home of witness Daniel Rider.

[Screenshot via Law&Crime Network]

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