WAUKESHA, Wis. — On the first day of sentencing Tuesday for Darrell Brooks, the man convicted in the Waukesha Christmas parade attack, dozens of people shared how it impacted them.
It was the chance for many of them to address Brooks directly for the first time since it happened on Nov. 21, 2021.
Family members and friends spoke about the loved ones they lost, the injured who are still trying to recover, and the irreversible damage done on so many levels.
A jury convicted Darrell Brooks last month of killing six people and injuring more than 60 others.
In total, prosecutors expect 45 survivors to address the court over the approximate two days of sentencing. Some of the people who spoke are children.
Members of the prosecution team could be seen wiping away tears as survivors and relatives of victims made their statements.
As they spoke, Brooks could be seen rolling his eyes, smacking his chest, and slowly clapping.
“It offends me that you’re sitting here breathing, while my mom is not,” said Matt Owen, one of the sons of LeAnna Owen, who was killed in the parade attack while performing with the Milwaukee Dancing Grannies. “You are a monster.”
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“Mr. Brooks, I hope you continue to roll your eyes as I speak, and show just how unmoved you are, because it’s important for the world to see that evil can be a tangible, living, breathing thing,” said Chris Owen, another son of LeAnna Owen. “Go ahead and shake your head as I speak. You took away my mother. A truly beautiful person. There is nothing this court can do that would provide justice in my eyes. So, all I ask is that you rot, slowly.”
Shari Sparks, the mother of the youngest parade victim, 8-year-old Jackson Sparks, was one of the first people to speak in court. Her other young son, who narrowly survived the attack, stood by her side. He’s still dealing with repercussions from his head injury, as well as the emotional and mental trauma of living through the attack and losing his little brother.
“We miss Jackson every day,” Sparks said. “I feel gutted and broken. It hurts to breathe sometimes. It hurts to live without him. I wish I would have known that day would be my last with him because I would have hugged him tighter and longer.”
Tyler Pudleiner, one of the Waukesha South High School band members severely injured in the attack, stood with his mom in court and shared a bible verse, as well as a movie quote that has helped him try to get through this.
“Forgiveness in no way requires that you trust the one you forgive,” he said. “Forgiveness is not about forgetting. It’s about letting go of another person’s throat. And I do want to acknowledge, I am letting go of your throat Mr. Brooks, but I will never forgive you.”
That garnered another eye roll and slow clap from Brooks.
One after another, parents, children and other family members directly impacted by the parade attack shared their pain and anger.
“I have never felt this kind of hatred for one person,” said Kelly Grabo. “You deserve life in prison without parole. You took away so much from so many people and have shown no remorse.”
Grabo and her 9-year-old daughter were injured while walking the parade.
“A real man would have stopped,” said Donald Tiegs, whose son Erick was nearly killed in the parade. “A real man would have admitted to his wrongs and apologized. You, Darrell Brooks, are pure evil. You don’t deserve to see the light of day ever again.”
Brooks is expected to be sentenced Wednesday.