Darrell Brooks Jr., the man convicted of killing six people when he plowed his red Ford SUV through a Christmas parade last year in Wisconsin, was sentenced on Wednesday to six consecutive life sentences without the possibility of parole for each count of first-degree intentional homicide.
Brooks, 41, stared, glared, and disrupted Waukesha County Judge Jennifer R. Dorow as she delivered over an hour of emotional remarks before kicking him out of the courtroom. Brooks returned to the main courtroom nearly an hour later – and began loudly fighting with the jurist – before he was sent back to an adjacent room, where he learned his fate.
"There is nothing, no other word, that can best describe what happened on Nov. 21 of 2021 other than the word ‘attack,’" Dorrow said, disputing an argument Brooks had made earlier in this day. "I searched for a mitigating factor in this case. I waited patiently for an apology, a true apology. I didn't get it, and not for my benefit. But for the victims."
"There is no medication or treatment for a heart that is bent on evil," Dorow said. "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 here today. It is very clear to this court that he understands the difference between right and wrong, and that he simply chooses to ignore his conscience. He is fueled by anger and rage."
Dorow added: "Some people, unfortunately, choose a path of evil. And I think, Mr. Brooks, you are one of those such persons. As a mom, my heart breaks for your family."
Earlier in the day, Brooks apologized and spoke for over two hours about his upbringing, his mental health and his renewed faith and told Wisconsin's Waukesha County court, "This needs to be said: What happened on Nov. 21, 2021 was not, not, not an attack. It was not planned, plotted."
He had already faced six mandatory life terms for the six counts of first-degree intentional homicide.
"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 am sorry that you could not see what's truly in my heart, that you cannot see the remorse that I have," he said. "That you cannot listen to all the phone calls that I have made to my family. That you cannot count all the tears that I have dropped."
Asked what he thought the court should do in terms of his sentencing, he responded that there were "issues with me attempting to answer that" and said he was "still confused" about the "nature and cause" of the charges. He said he felt that "the decision was already made before we even got here," but asked that she account for his time served.
He acknowledged that he had "become frustrated at times" during trial. He said regardless of what the court and trial attendees felt about his behavior during trial, "they were not personal." He spoke for several minutes about his frustration with Waukesha County District Attorney Susan L. Opper, who he said frustrated him, and said he was "angry."
Opper, who successfully prosecuted 76 counts against Brooks, stared at him as he spent several minutes speaking about her.
Brooks cried at times when speaking about his family and his children. He apologized to the judge and those in attendance for his trial outbursts, and said, "There was a part of me that felt that I haven’t been able to defend myself. I think it was just the pot boiling over. I was wrong for not being able to control myself the times that I wasn’t me."
He said he does not consider himself to be "a man of God" yet, but said it’s something he was learning "with time, with faith, with study."
Brooks’ sentencing came only hours after his loved ones, including his mother and grandmother, delivered statements on his behalf, and one day after over 40 people, including those who were hurt and family members of those killed, gave victim impact statements to a packed court.
He appeared to grow emotional as his mother, Dawn Woods, addressed the court via video-conference. Woods first delivered a statement where she spoke about the struggles of those suffering with mental health struggles and their families. She asked that her son be shown "a little compassion, empathy and some understanding."
DARRELL BROOKS IN COURT:
Brooks' grandmother, Mary Edwards, told the court her grandson suffered from bipolar disorder and added: "Darrell has lost his mind and his life in the outside world."
She concluded by telling the victims and their families: "I know their pain, and I pray that the Lord will continue to comfort and heal each of them."
Sheri Sparks, whose 8-year-old son, Jackson, was killed during the massacre, told the court on Tuesday that Brooks "violently ripped Jackson from our lives."
"I feel gutted and broken. It hurts to breathe sometimes," she said. "My mama soul aches for him."
Aliesha Kulich, whose mother, Jane Kulich, died, cried as she said she has "never felt so alone."
She added: "I never thought I’d be capable of feeling this much pain in my life."
Brooks, 41, drove his Ford Escape through a crowd of parade-goers – including children and elderly individuals – during a Nov. 21, 2021, Christmas celebration. He was fleeing the scene of a fight with his ex at the time.
He was charged with six counts of first-degree intentional homicide and prosecutors soon added dozens more counts. Brooks initially pleaded not guilty and then changed his plea to not guilty by mental disease.
The deceased victims were identified as Jackson Sparks, 8; Tamara Durand, 52; Jane Kulich, 52; LeAnna Owen, 71; Virginia Sorenson, 79; and Wilhelm Hospel, 81.
During the trial, Brooks behaved erratically and was argumentative with the judge, prosecutors and even witnesses.
He raised countless unnecessary objections throughout the proceedings and behaved so outrageously at times that Dorow repeatedly relegated him to a different courtroom for the trial-equivalent of a "time-out."
In December, Brooks told Fox News Digital that he felt "dehumanized" and like he was being "demonized."
It took a jury only three hours to deliberate. As the guilty verdicts were read on Oct. 26, someone from the gallery shouted, "Burn in hell, you piece of s---."
Fox News' Mills Hayes, Paul Best, and Michael Ruiz contributed to this report.