A man who plowed his SUV into a suburban Milwaukee Holiday parade was condemned to life in prison by a court on Wednesday.

He and his family asserted that mental illness pushed him to do it.

Darrell Brooks Jr., 40, was sentenced on 76 counts, include six charges of first-degree deliberate murder and 61 charges of reckless endangerment.

The Judge presiding over the case was Waukesha County Circuit Judge Jennifer Dorow.

Brooks Gets What He Deserves

Each homicide conviction carries a mandatory life sentence, and the only question Wednesday was whether Dorow would let Brooks spend any of those terms on prolonged supervised release in the community, the state’s form of parole.

Wisconsin is death-penalty-free.

Dorow’s announcement of life sentences was hailed. She then sentenced him to 762 years for endangering.

Dorow moved Brooks to a video courthouse after he disrupted her pre-sentencing speech. As the judge pronounced the punishments, he stood unmoving in handcuffs.

Brooks’ victims wanted a harsh penalty from Dorow Tuesday. Chris Owens, whose mom was slain, told Brooks, “Rot slowly.”

After fighting with his ex-girlfriend, Brooks crashed his red Ford Escape into the Waukesha procession on Nov. 21, 2021. Jackson Sparks, 8, and three women of the Dancing Grannies were slain. Many were hurt and seriously injured as well.

Brooks told the judge on Wednesday that he’s had a mental disorder since childhood and didn’t aim to drive onto the procession path.

He also apologized to anyone who was wounded or lost loved ones.

Brooks, who stood as his own defense lawyer, said he grew up fatherless, penniless, and hungry in rat-infested apartments.

Brooks claimed he’s had mental health concerns since childhood and was physically molested, but he didn’t disclose by whom. He believed life was better when he took medicine and spent time in mental hospitals.

Brooks apologized to the victims’ families saying that in his “heart” he was truly full of “regret.”

Brooks didn’t explain why he turned the SUV into the procession or what he was thinking. When Dorow asked him what punishment he should get, he answered, “Help me.”

Brooks’ grandmother and mother pleaded with Dorow to place him in a mental hospital. Mary Edwards, his grandmother, said Brooks’ mental instability led him to drive into the procession. Dawn Woods encouraged Dorow to treat Brooks in prison. As his mother spoke, Brooks wept.


Dorow said before handing down the penalties that she doesn’t believe Brooks is psychologically ill, citing the findings of four psychologists who assessed him earlier this year.

Mental health difficulties didn’t trigger what he did on Nov. 21, 2021, the judge said, adding that Brooks clearly knows what he did was “wrong” and has an anger issue which he let overtake him.

Dorow spent Tuesday hearing from victims seeking Brooks’ maximum penalty.

One by one, they recalled desperately looking for their children in the aftermath, the suffering their children have faced as they heal from injuries, and the grief they feel as they cope with the death of their loved ones.

DA Susan Opper urged Dorow on Tuesday to make the sentences concurrent so they stack up “just like he piled victims up as he drove,” with no option of extended supervision.

Brooks’ month-long trial was peppered by unpredictable outbursts. He refused to acknowledge his own name and regularly interrupted Dorow.

The judge moved Brooks to another courtroom many times so she could mute his mic when he was disruptive, as she did Wednesday.

This article appeared in NewsHouse and has been published here with permission.