Crime Experts Think Plea Deal Possible For Man Who Killed 6 When Driving SUV Into Waukesha Parade
At least 20 people injured after SUV slammed into Wisconsin Christmas parade, authorities say
An SUV sped into a Christmas parade in the Milwaukee suburb of Waukesha, leaving at least 20 people injured, authorities said Sunday. Your browser does not support this video Police in Waukesha, located about 20 miles west of Milwaukee, were urging people to avoid the downtown area. Mayor Shawn Reilly told WITI in Milwaukee that he does not believe there is any current danger to the public. Videos posted to social media, including a live feed of the parade operated by the City of Waukesha, show a red SUV breaking through barriers and speeding into the roadway where the parade was taking place.
Experts think a plea deal is possible for Darrell Brooks Jr., who killed six people and injured 60 when he drove an SUV into a Christmas parade in Waukesha, Wisconsin.
While Brooks, 39, has yet to provide a motive, it may not matter if he goes to trial. The charges of intentional homicide mean a life in prison for Brooks based on the evidence, legal experts told The Associated Press.
Police: 'Some' killed when SUV hits Christmas parade
WAUKESHA, Wis. (AP) — An SUV driver sped through a police line and into a parade of Christmas marchers on Sunday, hitting more than 20 adults and children in a horrifying scene captured by the city’s livestream and the cellphones of onlookers. Waukesha Police Chief Dan Thompson said “some” people had been killed but would not give an exact number. A person was in custody, he said, but he did not give any indication of motive. One video shows aWaukesha Police Chief Dan Thompson said “some” people had been killed but would not give an exact number. A person was in custody, he said, but he did not give any indication of motive.
Former Waukesha County District Attorney Paul Bucher said proving intent for the first person Brooks hit might be hard "but when he kept going and knowing what he had done to the first person and didn't stop, then it was all intentional."
Additionally, a criminal complaint reported that a side street was available for Brooks to turn on before hitting the parade marchers. Once passing the side street entrance, he never touched the brakes, the complaint said.
Brooks faces five counts of first-degree intentional homicide, a total expected to increase to six after another victim died Tuesday. More charges are likely to come, Waukesha County District Attorney Susan Opper said.
The most recent victim was 8-year-old Jackson Sparks. The other five, ranging in age from 52 to 81, were pronounced deceased just hours after the incident. As of Wednesday, at least 16 people are still in the hospital being treated, representatives from area hospitals said.
Waukesha Christmas parade: 5 killed and more than 40 injured after a vehicle barreled through a Wisconsin Christmas parade, officials say
Five people were killed and more than 40 were injured when a vehicle drove into a Christmas parade Sunday afternoon in Waukesha, Wisconsin, city officials said. © Nathan Bryce vehicle waukesha incident "These numbers may change as we collect additional information. Many people have self-transported to area hospitals," the city of Waukesha said in a Twitter post early Monday. Witnesses described the horror of seeing individuals struck and lying on the ground after a red SUV drove through a series of barricades and barreled into the crowded parade route on Main Street around 4:39 p.m. local time.
Brooks has not made a statement and no details about what he told detectives have been provided.
For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.
Brooks' attorneys, Jeremy Perri and Anna Kees, cautioned people not to judge the case before all facts are known.
"It's essential that we not rush to judgment, and instead treat these proceedings and all those involved with dignity and respect," they said in a statement.
"That includes Mr. Brooks, who is entitled to a vigorous defense and careful protection of his Constitutional rights. No matter how serious and emotional the charges, until the government proves its allegations beyond a reasonable doubt, our client is presumed innocent."
Opper said Wednesday her office would not comment on a pending case.
Brooks is accused of refusing to stop even as an officer banged on the hood of his SUV. Another officer fired three shots into the vehicle, but it did not stop.
SUV driver in parade crash may have been fleeing a crime
WAUKESHA, Wis. (AP) — Investigators are looking into whether the SUV driver who plowed through a Christmas parade in suburban Milwaukee, killing at least five people and injuring more than 40, was fleeing a crime, a law enforcement official told The Associated Press. The joyous scene of marching bands and children dancing in Santa hats and waving pompoms turned deadly in an instant on Sunday, giving way to screams and scenes of crumpled bodies as the SUV sped through barricades and struck dancers, musicians and others. Members of a “Dancing Grannies” club were among those killed. © Provided by Associated Press Police canvass the streets in downtown Waukesha, Wis.
But even if Brooks was under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time — and police have not said he was — that could not be used as a defense in Wisconsin, experts said.
Tom Grieve, a Brookfield defense attorney and former Waukesha County prosecutor, said one possible defense would be that Brooks was suffering from a mental disease or defect. A jury would have to decide if he was guilty of the charges and then whether he was mentally ill. Such a finding would likely land him in a mental institution rather than prison.
Opper could have charged Brooks with first-degree reckless homicide, which would have been a "slam dunk" conviction that, given Brooks' age, would have been an effective life sentence, Bucher said. But extensive video and other evidence also support the more serious charge, he and other experts said.
"The fact he didn't step on the brakes: That was intentional. The fact that his foot was on the gas: That was intentional. He could have stopped ... He's the only person who could put his foot on the brake pedal and he didn't," Grieve said.
A criminal complaint detailing the charges includes statements from police officers and witnesses who said the vehicle "appeared to be intentionally moving side to side," with no attempt to slow down or stop as it struck multiple people and sent bodies and objects flying.
Waukesha parade crash suspect's bail raises questions
WAUKESHA, Wis. (AP) — The suspect in a Christmas parade crash in suburban Milwaukee that killed five people was free on $1,000 bail posted just two days before the deadly event, a fact that is leading to a review of what happened and renewed calls for giving judges more power to set higher bails. One pending case against Darrell Brooks Jr. included an allegation that he deliberately hit a woman with his car in early November after a fight. Prosecutors in Milwaukee County on Monday called their bail recommendation “inappropriately low” given the facts of that case and the Sunday crash, and said they would review it.
One officer who tried to stop the vehicle said Brooks was looking directly at him, and it appeared he had no emotion on his face, the complaint said.
Prosecutors would not be allowed to put police or bystanders on the stand to speculate on what Brooks intended to do or his state of mind, experts said.
Bucher said prosecutors also would not be able to introduce social media posts made by Brooks, an aspiring rapper, or lyrics from his songs suggesting an interest in violence — which became the subject of widespread speculation on social media that Brooks' actions were intentional.
Brooks included links on social media to his songs, several of which seemingly celebrate violence and call police "pigs." In a biography on his SoundCloud account, he refers to growing up in the "dangerous west side neighborhood of Washington Park" in Milwaukee, his "multiple legal battles" and his desire to turn the "life he lived on the streets" into music.
Brooks, who has been charged with crimes more than a dozen times since 1999, had two outstanding cases against him at the time of the parade disaster, including one earlier in November in which he's accused of intentionally striking a woman with his car in Milwaukee County. He had been free on $1,000 bail for that case, which prosecutors now say was inappropriately low.
'Glue me back together': Online pleas to aid parade victims
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Friends and families of the roughly 50 people, including many children, hit by an SUV that sped through a Christmas parade in a suburban Milwaukee downtown say they suffered life-threatening injuries, with some clinging to life. A young girl who is a member of a dance troupe struck by the SUV, a moment captured on cellphone video, woke up Monday and told doctors, “just glue me back together,” according to her GoFundMe fundraising page organized by a family friend.“No child or parent should have to endure this amount pain and suffering," the girl's mother, Amber Konhke, posted Tuesday afternoon.
And on Sunday, Brooks was leaving the scene of a domestic dispute that had taken place just minutes before he drove into the parade route, WaukeshaChief Dan Thompson said.
Several experts predicted a plea deal.
"If I were in this case, what I'd be trying to do was to see how I can put out this fire as quickly as possible," said Phil Turner, a former federal prosecutor who now works in private practice in Chicago. "If you let it linger, it's only going to get worse."
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