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Judge’s decision after Brooks, supporters speak

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Darrell Brooks and those who are speaking on his behalf are expected to make their statements in Waukesha County court on Wednesday, Nov. 16 – following Brooks’ conviction on charges tied to the Waukesha Christmas parade attack in November 2021. 

To begin the day, the prosecution team noted there was one more victim witness statement that was requested to be made by the granddaughter of Virginia Sorenson. Her statement on Tuesday had been interrupted by the clearing of the court due to a threat made at the courthouse. The court agreed to allow that young girl speak – and that statement was read in court once again.

When asked, Brooks indicated to the court that four people would be speaking on his behalf – all via Zoom. 

Dawn Woods, Brooks’ mother, spoke first. She started by speaking about mental illness – that it impacts everyone. Woods called it the “dirty little secret in families that they don’t want to talk about.”

Dawn Woods, Darrell Brooks’ mother

Woods then read to the court the poem, “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,” written by Maya Angelou. Woods told Judge Dorow she hoped it would provide some inspiration to her son. 

Woods finished by speaking to the families of the victims of the Waukesha Christmas parade tragedy.

“To the families who lost loved ones and those who suffered injuries, that I know their pain. And I pray that the Lord will continue to comfort and heal each of them,” Woods said.

Brooks’ grandmother, Mary Edwards, spoke next on Darrell’s behalf. 

“I want to offer my sincere apologies to those hurt,” Edwards said. “It is my expectation my grandson will apologize and ask God for forgiveness.”

Mary Edwards, Darrell Brooks’ grandmother

Michelle Allworth, a longtime friend of Brooks spoke next. She called Brooks her best friend – having known him for 17 years. 

“He shared with me multiple times how remorseful he truly is,” Allworth said.

It was around 12:35 p.m. that Brooks himself was allowed to speak to the court. He began by standing up before the court.

FOX6 News will update this post as new statements or information is provided.

Victim impact statements

On Tuesday, 45 victims and survivors shared powerful personal accounts of how the attack impacted them in the first of two sentencing hearings for Brooks. The statements from the dozens of victims and family members was packed with emotion. 

“You have the audacity to say your conscience is clear. That is why you hear the term monster; demon,” said Chris Owen, son of Lee Owen. “I know why you did this. You did this because you weren’t in a cage…All I can ask is that you rot, and you rot slow.”

“You stated you are a God-loving man. You are not. A real man would have stopped and asked for forgiveness – pure evil and not fooling anyone,” said Donald Tiegs, father of Erick who was injured with the Waukesha South Marching Band.

“Every holiday, there will always be an empty chair where Jackson should be…It hurts to breathe sometimes…I’m emotionally and physically exhausted,” said Sheri Sparks, mother of Jackson and Tucker. She finished by adding, “Jackson the other victims deserve closure.”

“Now, I want you to use your imagination a little bit,” said David Sorenson, widower of Virginia Sorenson. “When it thunders, I imagine that Jackson is blasting a home run over the fence. When there is a rainbow, I will imagine the Dancing Grannies — Ginny, Tammy, Lee and Bill — with them dancing along its lines. When there is a ray of sunshine poking through the clouds, I will imagine it is Jane smiling down on us. When it snows, like it did this morning, I will imagine God’s love giving us a blanket in comfort. When I see a blue light, I see this community’s commitment to help heal and support each other. “

“The terror, the horror, the pain, the fear that you’ve caused to so many individuals, and everyone has their own unique path for healing. I hope that you will get sentenced to what you deserve,” said Dylan Yourell, father of Xtreme Dance Team victim.

Waukesha County D.A. Sue Opper’s statement

Following the victims’ statements to the court, Waukesha County District Attorney Sue Opper spoke to the court. She began by rattling off Brooks’ extensive criminal record. 

“This man has a history and a pattern of engaging in violence, and it was no different on Nov. 21, 2021,” Opper said. “I’m not going to spend a lot of time talking about the attack, and I choose to call it an attack instead of referring to it as the parade. There’s nothing wrong with the parade. The parade is good. The parade is the embodiment of the community.”

Opper went on to tell Judge Dorow Brooks’ actions were acts of a coward.

“Very few of the victims who were struck had any idea this car was barrelling down on them,” Opper said. “They had no way to know it was coming, and he mowed over them, ran them over without any ability to defend themselves. What is so offensive about this conduct, your Honor, is, obviously, the violent nature of it, but even more so, the defendant’s conduct and behavior in this court, his complete lack of decorum and respect for the court.”

Opper stated in court Brooks takes advantage of everyone.

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“He’s extremely manipulative. He absolutely thinks he’s in control of everything, when in fact, as he sits here in custody, he’s in control of nothing,” Opper said.

Final judgment

After Brooks and his witnesses have had a chance to speak, Judge Dorow will hand down her sentence and explain her reasoning tied to the charges. In the end, Brooks faces the consecutive six life sentences plus 859 years in prison.

The jury found Brooks guilty of six counts of first-degree intentional homicide. Each count carries a mandatory life sentence in Wisconsin. Judge Dorow has discretion over the other 70 counts — a decision that will come Wednesday.