Darrell Brooks sentenced to six consecutive life sentences with no chance of early release

WAUKESHA, Wis. — Darrell Brooks, the man convicted of killing six people and injuring dozens of others when he drove an SUV into last year’s Waukesha Christmas parade, will spend the rest of his life in prison with no possibility of ever being released.

Judge Jennifer Dorow handed down the sentence Wednesday, ordering the six life sentences be served consecutively with no possibility of early release on extended supervision after a sentencing hearing that stretched across two days and included several hours of comments from victims and Brooks himself.

After victims and their family members spoke Tuesday on the effects the Waukesha Christmas parade tragedy has had on them over the past year, Brooks’ family members, including his mother and grandmother, got their chance to ask for empathy in the sentencing Wednesday, citing his long history of mental health struggles.

Brooks himself also got the chance to speak, talking for more than two hours about how he has processed the past year, his mental health, and his remorse for what happened. He also addressed some of the comments that were directed toward him on Tuesday, including references to past comments about his conscience being clear.

“That comment was made because I made the decision to rededicate my life to Christ when this tragedy happened,” Brooks said. “In no way did that comment refer to not having any remorse, not having any understanding. It was strictly made to that point, that I have repented. That I have asked God for forgiveness.”

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Brooks said he himself is still trying to understand why he drove into a crowd of people during last year’s parade.

“One of the victims made a comment about trying to understand why this happened. That’s a question I struggle with myself. The why, the how, how could life ever get this far away from what it should be,” Brooks said. “As I said before, I had to look inside myself and understand why the comments were being made. Why people feel the way they feel and right to.”

“I want each and every victim in this incident, family members, those who lost loved ones, those who are still healing — I want you to know that no matter how you felt during this year, no matter how you felt yesterday, I want everyone to know — also the community of Waukesha — I want you to know that not only am I sorry for what happened, I’m sorry that you could not see what’s truly in my heart. That you cannot see the remorse that I have, that you cannot listen to all the phone calls that I’ve made to my family, that you cannot hear all of the prayers I’ve said in my cell, that you cannot count all of the tears that I’ve dropped in this year,” Brooks added.

When asked by Judge Dorow if he had any recommendations for his sentence, Brooks suggested that he would accept a sentence to a location that would get him the mental health care he believes he needs.

During her sentencing comments, Dorow expressed her doubts that Brooks’ mental health was the reason behind his actions, and said those claims insulted those who suffer from mental health problems.

“Do the mentally ill sometimes commit atrocious crimes? They do. This is not one of those situations,” Dorow said in her sentencing statement. “There are many times, many times, good people do bad things. But there are times when evil people do bad things. There is no medication or treatment for a heart that is bent on evil. Child trauma, bipolar, indifference, physical abuse of a child, or childhood trauma did not cause Darrell Brooks to commit the acts for which he will be sentenced here today.”

Dorow said she believes Brooks knows right from wrong and knew right from wrong on the day of the Waukesha Christmas parade.

“He is fueled by anger and rage. Some people, unfortunately, choose a path of evil, and I think, Mr. Brooks, that you are one of those such persons,” Dorow said.

Brooks was later removed from the courtroom in the middle of Dorow’s comments for interrupting her sentencing comments. Dorow continued her sentencing statement by reviewing the evidence presented in the case and the statements provided by victims and their families.

Brooks was allowed to return to the courtroom for the final portion of Dorow’s sentencing statements but was again argumentative. Dorow accused Brooks of trying to “delay the inevitable” with his disruptions, and ultimately removed him from the courtroom again when he refused to sit down so her sentencing could continue.

Dorow said a lack of what she considered a sincere apology in his two hours of comments Wednesday was a factor in her decision.

“Two hours, one sentence — I’m sorry. That’s it,” Dorow said. “I waited for an apology, a true apology, and I didn’t get it. And not for my benefit, but the victims’.”

“Frankly, Mr. Brooks, nobody is safe from you. This community can only be safe if you are behind bars for the rest of your life,” Dorow said before handing down the sentence.