Sometime later today I expect to hear the news that Darrell Brooks has been sentenced to six consecutive life sentences, plus around 900 years in prison without the possibility of parole. I would like to watch it live but have some business matters to deal with so I will watch it later on YouTube (Law and Crime has livestreamed and archived the whole trial). This ending to an unspeakable tragedy has received a ton of press locally here in Wisconsin, and I have seen quite a bit nationally as well. What follows are my thoughts on the subject.
November 21 of last year for whatever reason, Darrell Brooks drove his SUV through the Waukesha Christmas parade and changed untold numbers of lives forever. He rolled over little kids, the elderly, and everyone in between without regard for, well, anything.
I have watched almost the entire trial due to the intense local interest. I have always been interested in law and courts and my family has a connection to this trial as we know the brother of one of the people involved quite well. I turned my mother onto watching it. She moved to Denver from this area six years ago and noted that she hadn’t heard those Wisconsin accents in some time. Yes, there is a Wisconsin accent. It isn’t quite as sing-songy as the North Dakota or Minnesota versions, but it is quite nasal.
That aside, when the trial started I was sort of taken aback by the defendant. He ditched his attorneys and before trial decided to do the whole thing himself. All through the trial his main defense was the sovereign citizen nonsense. I had heard of it before but had never really seen it in practice. My kneejerk was to “toss the bum out” but forward the trial went. In addition to the SovCit lunacy, Brooks was abusive to the judge, the DA’s who were prosecuting him, the court in general, the witnesses and anyone else that was in his way. He was removed from the courtroom repeatedly (I learned all about Illinois vs. Allen) and moved to an adjacent courtroom to view the proceedings. The trial probably was extended an extra week due to the disruptions, but they got through it. The judge was masterful with her patience and treatment of the defendant. He had his day. It is my opinion that there is no way any appeals court will touch this thing with the treatment that Brooks received, and that is a good thing.
During the trial the prosecution showed a lot of video of Brooks being questioned by the cops and admitting things. An interesting example of the Reid technique in real life. They broke him down.
The jury deliberated for around 2 hours from what I have heard before returning seventy six guilty verdicts.
That is the pretty short version of the trial – you can go to the Law and Crime channel on YouTube if you want to watch it.
After all of this I have learned a lot, but still have some questions. The State concluded that Brooks was sane enough to run his own trial but I am not really so sure. I have never seen a person like him. He obviously has narcissistic personality disorder at a level I’ve never seen. I’ve known narcissists before, but this guy has not once shown any remorse or guilt whatsoever to any of the victims that he harmed. He even had the gall to call people to the stand as his witnesses that were harmed or had their children harmed by him. I also think he is bi-polar or something as he would be in a rage one minute and the next minute smiling and laughing and apologizing. I guess it all could be an act and I am certainly no expert with this type of thing, but the guy, at least to me, didn’t seem fit to do his trial.
It is my guess that Brooks will be killed in prison like Dahmer was.
But enough of Brooks. Yesterday were the victim statements. I promised myself I wouldn’t watch them as I knew what was coming but I am glad that I did. Naturally, many of the victims made written statements as they knew they wouldn’t hold up in court to actually read them. The statements of those who came to court hit a range that I expected.
1) Rage/I hope you rot in hell/wish we had the death penalty in Wisconsin
2) Story of my injuries/families injuries/death and I hope you rot in hell
3) Forgiveness and examples of how you can’t beat us
4) Other (two examples)
I always try to imagine myself in these situations and try to figure out where I would fall. I would likely not be able to hold myself together to make a public statement but if I could, likely would be somewhere between 2 and 3.
The statements were tear jerking, awe inspiring, and for me a bit embarrassing. I was embarrassed because as the victims described their journeys they almost all mentioned the funds that were set up to help them with medical and psychological expenses and I was embarrassed that I didn’t donate. I’m going to fix that wrong soon.
Tear jerking – the damage that a 4500 pound vehicle going 35 mph does to a human is insane. We learned from the coroners when they were on the stand that it is normal for people to be blasted out of their shoes and to have road rash on their feet during these types of collisions. For those who survived, there were incredible injuries that took countless hours of care by family to recover from and the stories of how these families came through it all (and the wonders of western medicine) had me simply slackjawed. These people had to bring themselves from the brink of exhaustion over and over to help their children or other loved ones through therapy, surgeries, and all the rest. I almost cried several times and I really don’t cry.
Awe inspiring – many told their stories of how, after the tragedy, the community came through to help in any way possible. That could have been from helping someone who was injured to Wisconsin native NFL star JJ Watt paying for funeral expenses. I was truly touched by how the community all banded together to help.
Religious adherence – there was a Catholic group who marched in the parade. Almost to a person, these people in their victim statements showed forgiveness to Brooks for what he did. That is amazing to me.
In general, I was simply in awe of all of the people who held it together to get through their statements. Naturally, Brooks rolled his eyes, made fake clapping noises and in general, disrespected those affected.
Up above I mentioned “other”. While all of the victim statements were moving, two stood out. One was a man who destroyed the SovCit argument and reminded Brooks what he was there and we were here because of “We The People”. Our society elects legislatures who make laws and our courts administer these laws. It was a wonderful America moment.
One other man threw shade at Milwaukee district attorney John Chisolm. He rightly noted Brooks’ lengthy criminal record before the parade murders and raged at the local DA not putting him in jail. This doesn’t even mention the crimes Brooks committed in Nevada. This man hit the nail on the head and brought a few things full circle for me.
A few years ago I was on the way to work and I saw in my rear view mirror a car that had to have been going 125mph. I said “Oh My” and before I got out “God” he had sideswiped my car swerving to narrowly hit the car in the lane to the right of me and destroying the front right quarter of my vehicle. My Acura (nod to the engineering of that vehicle) jumped just a tiny bit but I was able to get it under control, and off the road. I called the cops. As it ended up this guy did almost the exact same thing as Brooks did. Brooks had just been tapping a tune on his girlfriend and was fleeing for some reason (maybe she called the cops?) and ended up at the parade route in Waukesha. The guy who wrecked my car and literally almost killed me, I found out later, was just at his girlfriends house beating her up and was fleeing to his house when we crossed paths on the Beltline in Madison. As with Brooks, the defendant in my incident had a criminal record a mile long in two states (in fact WAY longer than Brooks) and there was simply no reason he should have been out menacing the public. I was fine, but very lucky. Those in Waukesha, not. I sort of keep hoping for street justice for the guy who wrecked my car as he has committed more crimes since the day we crossed paths. I guess that puts me closer to category “1” or “2” above, in reality.
Today is the end of the Waukesha Parade tragedy until we hear about Brooks dying someday in an obscure headline. So many lives have been touched in terrible ways but I hope everyone involved can heal physically and mentally.