Waukesha Christmas Parade killer convicted, accountability remains

By M.D. Kittle

MADISON — Nearly a year after he plowed his SUV into Waukesha’s annual Christmas parade killing six people and injuring dozens more, Darrell Brooks Jr. was found guilty Wednesday on all 76 counts against him.

But the people behind Milwaukee County’s revolving door criminal justice system that freed the career violent criminal on $1,000 cash bail days before the parade have yet to be held accountable.

After a long trial that Brooks did his best to turn into a circus, the jury did not take long to find the 40-year-old Milwaukee man guilty on the charges, including first-degree homicide, first-degree recklessly endangering safety, hit-and-run, and bail-jumping. Sentencing scheduling will take place on Halloween.

Patti Logsdon, whose teen-aged granddaughter was critically injured while performing with her dance team in the parade, said through tears that justice has been served.

“I’m happy,” Logsdon said, choking up. “All I can say is guilty, guilty, guilty. Lock him up and throw away the key.”

The verdict is some consolation, but Logsdon and so many others know that the horror Brooks unleashed could have been avoided.

In early November, 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 mother of his child — with the same SUV he used to mow down parade-goers.

The violent criminal with a long rap sheet was released on a measly $1,000 bail. Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm, who long ago predicted his liberal law enforcement policies would free killers, acknowledged that one of his prosecutors made a mistake in recommending the “inappropriately low bail.” 

Brooks was just the latest in a long line of Milwaukee County violent criminals let loose on low bail who went on to commit violent crimes. Gov. Tony Evers, who campaigned for office on a pledge to reduce the state’s prison population by half, brushed off a complaint by Milwaukee County citizens asking him to remove Chisholm from office. Not surprising from a governor whose Parole Commission has released hundreds of murderers, attempted murderers and child rapists — many of them on a discretionary basis.

U.S. Rep. Bryan Steil (R-Janesville) said the jury’s decision rightfully convicts Brooks, but the pain the families in Waukesha have suffered the past year can never be erased.

“This attack is a stark reminder of the harm soft-on-crime policies and prosecutors have in our communities,” Steil said. “This horrific attack should never have occurred. We must implement policies that keep criminals off our streets and give law enforcement the resources needed to keep our communities safe.”

Logsdon said the guilty verdicts will bring relief to Waukesha as it prepares for the annual Christmas parade that has long been a source of joy.

“It should be a more joyous occasion, I think, since the trial has ended and ended well. A lot of people want to be out to celebrate the lives of the lost,” Logsdon, a Milwaukee County Board supervisor said.

There will be a hole in the community’s heart for the victims of this senseless attack:

Virginia Sorenson, 79; Leanna Owen, 71; Tamara Durand, 52; Jane Kulich, 52; and Wilhelm Hospel, 81; and Jackson Sparks, 8.

Empower Wisconsin | Oct. 27, 2022

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