Darrell Brooks derailed his sentencing with a convoluted speech on Wednesday.
Waukesha County Circuit Judge Jennifer Dorow asked Brooks four times whether he had any sentencing recommendations well into a two-hour-long monologue on how he had “converted his life to Christ” after killing six people and injuring more than 60 others during the parade last year.
Brooks delayed the proceeding by sharing rambling thoughts and offering a plethora of excuses as to why he chose to plow into the crowd on 21 November 2021. He charged at Ms Dorow and challenged her to remove him from the court after she threatened to do so when he wouldn’t behave.
The court then went into recess while Brooks was moved to another room, a common scene throughout the month-long trial in which he represented himself. He was eventually brought to the courtroom only to be removed again after he refused to remain quiet while Judge Dorow spoke.
Brooks was convicted last month on 76 charges, including six counts of murder that carry one life sentence each.
He also faces an additional 17-and-a-half years for each of his 61 counts of recklessly endangering safety. When asked on Wednesday if he understood the difference between serving his expected life sentences consecutively or concurrently, he said that “he can’t live a million years.”
The convicted killer attempted to raise concerns about his mental health and how it would affect his understanding of the sentences. However, Judge Dorow shut down his remarks, citing four previous reports from experts that found Brooks fully competent to stand trial.
“I am not here to debate that you have a history [of mentally ill”... trauma, emotional pain,” Ms Dorow said. “I have read not one, not two, not three but four reports from experts in this field that we know as forensic psychology and psychiatry.”
She continued: “[These are] individuals who have an expertise in evaluating a plea of not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect because I don’t want there to be any doubt in my sentencing that I considered that.”
In his speech, Brooks appealed to the court and argued that he had faced great challenges in life, such as being abandoned by his father, “seeing his mom work three jobs,” and losing his sister.
“I’ve been 11 years on the bench. There are many times when good people do bad things, but there are times when evil people do bad things,” Ms Dorow said.
“There is no medication or treatment for a heart that is bent on evil. Child trauma, Bipolar, indifference, physical abuse of a child or even childhood trauma did not cause Darrell Brooks to commit the acts for which he will be sentenced today,” she added.
“It is very clear to this court that he understands the difference between right and wrong, he simply chooses to ignore his conscience.”
After three people spoke on his behalf on Wednesday, Brooks hinted at a glimpse of remorse, but ultimately dodged taking accountability for the crime and said that he “was sorry” that the victims “couldn’t see his remorse” and “count his tears.”
“I want those who lost loved ones [...] the community of Waukesha to know that not only am I sorry for what happened,” Brooks began. “I am sorry that you cannot see what’s truly in my heart, that you cannot see the remorse that I have [and] that you cannot count all the tears that I’ve dropped.”
“That’s a question I struggle with myself. The why, the how. How could life get so far away from what it should be?” he said. “Regardless of what anybody might think about me, about who I am, about my family, about my beliefs. God knows who I am.”
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