(Headline USA) A judge is set to decide Friday whether a Milwaukee-area man accused of plowing his SUV through a Christmas parade, killing six people and injuring dozens more, will stand trial for murder.
Darrell Brooks Jr. is set to appear in Waukesha County court before Judge Michael Bohren for a preliminary hearing.
Such hearings, when the judge decides whether there’s enough evidence to hold a defendant for trial, are usually a formality but can shed light on defense and prosecution strategies.
According to the criminal complaint, Brooks drove his mother’s maroon Ford Escape into the parade in downtown Waukesha on Nov. 21.
He kept going despite police officers’ demands to stop, with some officers telling investigators it appeared the driver was trying to intentionally hit people and “citizen witnesses” telling detectives the SUV never slowed down.
Some of the people he hit flew up onto the hood of the Escape; at one point Brooks had to lean out the driver’s window to steer because a person had landed on the windshield, according to the complaint.
District Attorney Susan Opper charged Brooks with six counts of first-degree intentional homicide a few days later. He would face life in prison if he’s convicted on even one count.
Opper this week added scores of additional charges, including reckless endangerment, hit-and-run involving death, bail jumping and battery.
While the motives remains unconfirmed and subject to speculation, Brooks had been known to post content on social media that espoused black-supremacist viewpoints, supported the pro-Marxist Black Lives Matter.
Many in the immediate aftermath believed the attack was in retribution for the acquittal of Kyle Rittenhouse, which saw numerous left-wing activists and even Democratic leaders promote threats of violence. At least one local Democratic Party official was fired for celebrating the attack, later claiming her commentary was a joke.
Brooks also had a shocking criminal past in several states but had benefited from an overly lenient system of justice at the hands of radical lawmakers, judges and prosecutors.
Court documents filed Wednesday allege Brooks beat the mother of his child minutes before driving into the parade because she refused to bail him out of jail after he was arrested for allegedly running her over with the same vehicle earlier in November.
Brooks had been arrested in neighboring Milwaukee County in that alleged earlier incident. He walked out of jail on Nov. 19, two days before the parade, after posting $1,000 bail.
Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm, a Democrat, has taken intense criticism for his office recommending bail be set so low for Brooks.
Chisholm claimed in December that the COVID-19 pandemic has led to a backlog of cases in his office while deflecting immediate blame.
An evaluation of the risk Brooks posed to the community never made into his office’s computer system and went unseen, Chisholm claimed, and a young, overworked assistant prosecutor recommended $1,000 bail for him so she could move on to other cases.
A group of Milwaukee County taxpayers filed a complaint with Democrat Gov. Tony Evers in December demanding he remove Chisholm from office.
An attorney the Evers administration hired to review the complaint concluded Tuesday that the complaint suffers from technical legal deficiencies and isn’t valid. Evers refused to take any action against Chisholm, a fellow Democrat.
Chisholm has pushed for ending cash bail, saying it’s not fair to poor defendants. He wants a new system in which only violent offenders are jailed until trial.
Brooks’ case has pushed Republicans legislators to introduce bills that would require a $10,000 minimum bond for people who have previously committed a felony or violent misdemeanor.
They would also require the Wisconsin Department of Justice to create a “bond transparency report” detailing crime and bond conditions.
Evers and Democratic Attorney General Josh Kaul have said they would support stricter bail policies—a dramatic shift from their past actions supporting lawlessness and efforts to defund the police during the 2020 riots in Kenosha and elsewhere.
Bohren is no stranger to high-profile cases. He presided over proceedings against two Waukesha girls accused of stabbing their classmate in 2014 to please a fictional horror character, Slender Man.
Adapted from reporting by the Associated Press