As Waukesha massacre trial begins, victims ask, ‘Will there be justice?’

By M.D. Kittle

MADISON — In the first day representing himself in a scheduled month-long trial, accused Waukesha Christmas Parade killer Darrell Brooks Jr. was removed from the courtroom twice following repeated disruptions.

The career violent criminal stands accused of killing six people, including an eight year-old boy, and injuring scores more in last November’s massacre. Police say the 40-year-old Milwaukee man plowed his red SUV through the annual parade as he attempted to elude police.

A family member of victims of the rampage says that after nearly a year, she’s more than ready for the trial to begin.

“I don’t have a lot of faith in the system,” she said, asking that her name not be used for the record. Victims and their families have been instructed by attorneys not to speak to the press while the trial is ongoing, sources tell Empower Wisconsin.

It’s understandably difficult to have faith in a criminal justice system that has so often and cheaply turned loose a violent man on the Milwaukee area. That system, in many ways, is on trial, too — in the weeks before November’s election.

In early November 2021, less than three weeks before the Waukesha parade, Brooks had been arrested on charges of Second Degree Recklessly Endangering Safety, Battery, Obstructing an Officer, and Bail Jumping. In that incident, Brooks was accused of running over his ex-girlfriend, the wife of his child — with the same SUV he used to mow down parade-goers.

The Milwaukee County District Attorney’s office recommended he be released on just $1,000 bond. Milwaukee County DA John Chisholm, who had predicted years before that criminals he released through his “progressive” criminal justice policies would go on to kill, said “human error” led to Brooks’ “inappropriately low” bail. But inappropriately low bail for violent offenders has become the rule, not the exception, in Milwaukee County’s revolving door criminal justice system.

Milwaukee County residents in January filed a complaint begging Gov. Tony Evers to investigate and remove Chisholm from office. Evers refused, shrugging off the complaint. Instead, the Democrat hired a high-priced, outside attorney to kill it. In doing so, Evers sent a message to the average Wisconsinite: Attempts to hold corrupt or incompetent public officials (at least the governor’s friends) accountable will not be tolerated.

Brooks’ rap sheet is long and violent. He’s a convicted sex offender who at the time of his arrest in Waukesha was wanted in Nevada on an active warrant for failing to obey sex offender laws, Fox News reported. At 24, Brooks was convicted in 2006 of having consensual sex with a 15-year-old and conceiving a child with her. He was sentenced to probation but was arrested for failure to obey sex offender laws in 2016. Brooks then jumped bail on that charge and never appeared in court.

On July 28, 2020, the Milwaukee County District Attorney’s Office charged Brooks with two counts of second-degree recklessly endangering safety and for being a felon in possession of a firearm, according to court documents. Cash bail originally was set at $10,000, but subsequently reduced to $7,500.

Six months later, Brooks was still in prison (he couldn’t make bail) awaiting a speedy trial. Because another trial was in progress before the same court, the case was adjourned and bail was reduced to $500. Brooks paid that and was out on the streets again.

In Brooks’ latest run in with Milwaukee law enforcement on Nov. 5, prosecutors in Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm’s office requested bail at $1,000 — for a habitual bail jumper and violent criminal. Brooks paid and left jail, days before he is suspected of callously running over dozens of human beings in Waukesha.

The family member of parade victims who spoke to Empower Wisconsin said she’s pleased that Brooks’ trial is being held in Waukesha County and not Milwaukee County.

“I hope there will be justice,” she said, pausing. “Will there be? I’m concerned, but I want to stay positive.”

Empower Wisconsin | Oct. 4. 2022

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