The attorney for Darrell Brooks - the man charged with driving through the Waukesha Christmas Parade, killing six people and injuring dozens more - filed a motion to withdraw as his attorney ahead of his trial set to begin in less than two weeks, on Oct. 3.
Brooks' attorney Jeremy Perri filed the motion Thursday. Perri and Anna Kees have been defending Brooks since November 2021.
The motion submitted to the judge says Brooks' requested that he represent himself.
Waukesha County District Attorney Sue Opper sent a letter to families of victims and survivors of the parade attack explaining this new development. In it, she writes, “This is not what the defense attorneys wish. It is what their client wants.”
Brooks, the defense attorneys he doesn't want anymore, and the prosecution team will be back in court this Tuesday at 1 p.m. That’s when Waukesha County Circuit Court Judge Jennifer Dorow, who’s presiding over this case, will decide whether to allow Brooks to represent himself.
Anyone charged with a crime in America has a right to a lawyer, and a right to defend themselves in court. Judge Dorow has a few options. She could allow Brooks to represent himself. She could assign a different public defender to represent Brooks. That person would need time to get caught up on the case. She could also deny Brooks’ request if she believes it to be a delay tactic.
Earlier this month, Brooks withdrew his insanity plea. In August, he was taken out of a hearing because he fell asleep during proceedings, and then had an outburst in which he yelled at Judge Dorow and Waukesha County Sheriff’s Deputies.
People in Waukesha are disgusted that this could delay justice.
“This is likely just going to drag things on, and keep the wounds that are already massive, open for much longer than they have to be,” said Andy Wojtanownski.
“This already has caused so much trauma for so many people, and it’s just so unfair,” said Makenzie Smallish, who owns Kenzie Joe Salon in downtown Waukesha. “I don’t think Darrell Brooks realizes the magnitude of what he’s done.”
The attorneys involved did not return our calls. Survivors of the parade attack and families who lost loved ones have been advised not to talk publicly until the trial is over, because so much is in question, and at stake. Some of them did tell us over the phone that they are beyond frustrated with this latest move by Brooks.
“I understand he has rights, but what about the people that he injured and killed?” said Lynn Gaffey, the owner of Almont Gallery in downtown Waukesha. “This man deserves to be tried and put away for as long as possible. Delaying it any longer is not good for anybody.”
The Almont Gallery became a haven the night of the parade. People ran inside for safety.
“We saw the car coming and zig-zagging,” said Gaffey. “We were in shock. One of the other artists who works here is also a trained EMT. She ran out and started giving aid to one of the women who was badly injured.”
So many people have a harrowing story from that night or the weeks and months after. They define the battle cry that has come out of all this, “Waukesha Strong.” But they want to shift that strength into healing and say Brooks is making it so difficult.
“That’s what this mural represents,” said Christina Dreyer, who is helping paint a “Waukesha Strong” mural downtown. “We’re creating this mural to try and close this chapter and focus on how much we’ve progressed and grown through all this, and how strong we are as a community. But every new development with Darrell Brooks and his trial brings up so many raw emotions.”