Skip to main content

‘You Won’t Hear Me Try to Argue Facts’: Accused Waukesha Parade Attacker Tells Jury There’s Hurt People on ‘Both Sides’


After the state rested its case on Thursday, Waukesha parade attack suspect Darrell Brooks, 40, delivered his opening statement. He acknowledged that people died at the Christmas parade last year, but he denied that it was planned or intentional.

“You won’t hear me try to argue facts,” he told jurors. “The fact is this incident was tragic. Very tragic. That’s not lost on me.”

Brooks is representing himself against six counts of first-degree intentional homicide — Wisconsin’s highest murder charge — and multiple other counts.

The entire list of charges is 83 counts long.

He chose to deliver an opening statement after the state concluded its case in chief.

The defendant said there were a lot of people and families healing on “both sides.”

Six people died when a driver — Brooks, prosecutors say — rammed a red SUV through Waukesha, Wisconsin’s Christmas parade on Nov. 21, 2021:  Jackson Sparks, 8, Tamara Durand, 52, Jane Kulich, 52, Leanna “Lee” Owen, 71, Virginia Sorenson, 79, and Wilhelm Hospel, 81. Dozens were injured. Authorities said Brooks had been fleeing after abusing and harassing his ex-girlfriend Erika Patterson.

Often sounding emotional and wiping his eyes during the statement, Brooks claimed he had prepared no remarks but chose instead to speak from the “heart.” He said that for roughly a year, only one side of the story had been told.

“A lot of speculation,” he said. “A lot of ridicule.”

Brooks fired his attorneys shortly before trial and decided to represent himself. A self-professed sovereign citizen, he suggested that prosecutors could bring charges against him because the State of Wisconsin is not a flesh and blood person. Judge Jennifer Dorow has constantly rubbished such arguments in court, yet Brooks repeatedly insists on bringing them up. He even attempted to call the state itself as his first witness. Prosecutors objected to that move; Dorow agreed.

He also unsuccessfully attempted to persuade the judge to toss the case against him.

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

After failing to call the “state” itself to testify, Brooks called Patterson’s friend Nicholas Kirby. Sounding more like a prosecution witness — and definitely not on Brooks’ side — Kirby testified that Patterson had shown him Brooks’ rap sheet and picture the week before the parade attack occurred. Kirby said Patterson planned to meet Brooks on Nov. 21 but that he warned her that a meetup was a bad idea.

“I was in fear for her safety,” Kirby testified as to Patterson.

Kirby said he was with Patterson’s mutual friend Kori Runkel. Runkel saw Patterson in Brooks’ red SUV first. Kirby said he heard Patterson and asked a nearby police officer for help.

Prosecutors previously called Runkel to testify.

Authorities said Brooks eventually fled the scene alone in his SUV.

“He took the coward’s way out,” Assistant District Attorney Zachary Wittchow said.

Brooks first struck survivor Nicole White, the prosecutor said.

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

[Screenshot via Law&Crime Network]

Have a tip we should know? [email protected]

Filed Under:

Follow Law&Crime: