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Counselor weighs in on the impact testifying in the Darrell Brooks trial will have on children

"Being questioned by the accused may bring a different weight of triggers."
DARRELL BROOKS
Posted at 5:52 PM, Oct 03, 2022

WAUKESHA, Wis. — It has been nearly a year after the Waukesha Christmas parade tragedy and now Darrell Brooks' trial is underway, with Brooks representing himself after waving his right to an attorney.

Inside the courtroom on Monday, Brooks became so disruptive that the judge forced him to watch the proceedings from another courtroom.

While it was only day one of jury selection, another very real aspect of this trial is the victims, many of who are children, will have to face Brooks inside the courtroom.

TMJ4 asked licensed professional counselor Lakiesha Russell who specializes in trauma, how children who may testify are feeling.

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"They might feel sweaty palms, heart might be beating fast. Some of them might struggle with sleeping," Russell said.

Russel said children who field questions from Brooks himself may bring a different weight of triggers. Triggers that will differ from child to child.

Russell says the best way to prepare a child to testify is to have them practice telling what happened before they have to do it in court. She calls the practice narrative therapy.

"If the child is younger than eight it may be harder for them to understand why they are being questioned by Brooks," Russell said. "If they're older, they might have a better understanding of the court proceedings."

She believes the impact of going before the man accused of killing six and injuring dozens of others can lead to bigger problems for the children if they are not addressed now. Problems such as lack of trust/safety or self-sabotage.

Paul Bucher served as the Waukesha County District Attorney for more than two decades and believes Brooks will not be allowed to approach witnesses or victims. Bucher thinks he'll have to question them while he's seated.

​ "It's emotional, it's difficult, but you have to get them ready for it," Bucher stated.

The most important part for Russell is ensuring young children have the support in place before, during, and after they take the stand in this trial.

"We have to acknowledge their feelings because they're the ones experiencing that. We can't take away that experience from them," Russell said.

Russell acknowledges that healing for some takes longer and testifying may be triggering. Through it all, she says staying open and listening can help tremendously.

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