WAUKESHA, Wis. — An erratic defendant who represented himself, Darrell Brooks grabbed all the attention in his three-and-a-half-week-long homicide trial.
On Tuesday during sentencing, and for the first time in his trial, he will not be the focus.
"This is the opportunity for the victims to express themselves," said Jonathan Lavoy, a criminal defense attorney with Kim and Lavoy. "Mr. Brooks' fate is sealed. He's going to serve the rest of his life in prison."
Judge Jennifer Dorow has scheduled two days — Tuesday and Wednesday — for sentencing, an "incredibly lengthy sentencing hearing," said Lavoy. A typical sentencing, he said, even in the most serious of cases, could last several hours or half a day.
Brooks was convicted by a jury on all 76 counts for driving an SUV into the 2021 Waukesha Christmas Parade, killing six and injuries dozens more. The six intentional homicide counts each carry a mandatory life sentence. He faces up to 859 additional years in prison for the 70 other counts.
Judge Dorow has the discretion to make Brooks eligible for parole, though Lavoy believes that's highly unlikely.
The state said approximately 45 people, including parade victims and family members, will make victim impact statements in court. Dozens of others have submitted written statements to be read aloud. Children are among those who will address the court.
"This case has affected so many people," said Lavoy. "I think there's going to be a tremendous amount of emotion in court [Tuesday]. We're talking about children being run over. We're talking about a Christmas parade, a time that's supposed to be a happy time that resulted in a tremendous tragedy."
Brooks has also submitted a list of nine people to the court to speak on his behalf. TMJ4 spoke with Brooks' mother and grandmother, who say they plan to speak over Zoom. A friend of Brooks, also on the list, said she was unaware Brooks intended for her to speak, though she said she would.
Lavoy said the judge will listen, but he doesn't believe those statements from Brooks' family and friends will have any impact on the outcome.
"At this point, there is probably nothing he [Brooks] can do to change the outcome of the case," said Lavoy. "He needs to talk about how his crimes affected others, and not about himself. So, I think he needs to look towards forgiveness, and for acceptance and responsibility."