WAUKESHA, Wisc. — A Milwaukee man accused of killing six people and injuring dozens more when he drove an SUV through a suburban Christmas parade is pleading not guilty to multiple criminal charges.
Thirty-nine-year-old Darrell Brooks Jr. entered the pleas Friday to 77 charges, including six counts of homicide and multiple counts of reckless endangerment.
Attorneys for Brooks requested a new judge in the case. They did not give a reason why. Their request was granted Friday. The case has been reassigned from Judge Michael Bohren to Chief Judge Jennifer Dorow.
Judge Dorow was first appointed by Scott Walker in 2011 after working as an Assistant District Attorney in Waukesha County. She is a Marquette University graduate.
Judge Dorow will ultimately decide whether Brooks’ trial will remain in Waukesha County, as his defense attorneys push for it to be moved elsewhere. Brooks will face Judge Dorow in court on March 11th.
On Thursday, defense attorney Jeremy Perri filed a request for a change of venue. He says a fair and impartial jury for Brooks' trial cannot be found in Waukesha County. He wants the trial held in a different county or before a jury drawn from another county. In either circumstance, he also asks that the jury be sequestered during trial. That means jurors must remain separated from the rest of society during the trial and not watch any news coverage.
In the detailed request, Perri wrote, “The effects of the parade incident on the Waukesha community have been profound and pervasive, evidenced by the sheer number of people directly affected... and all those who have directly contributed, financially and otherwise, to individually support the victims. The powerful and passionate community response and the intense media coverage of the tragedy and Mr. Brooks, require a change of venue in this case to ensure a fair trial.
The Waukesha County District Attorney’s Office has not responded to that motion for a change of venue.
Last month, court Commissioner Kevin Costello said prosecutors had presented “ample” evidence to show Brooks probably committed felonies and ordered him to stand trial. Brooks’ attorney has maintained that he couldn’t turn off the parade route Nov. 21 in downtown Waukesha because side streets were barricaded and full of spectators.
Brooks also faces charges in Milwaukee County for hitting and injuring a woman with a vehicle before the Waukesha attack.
Tyler Pudleiner, a member of the Waukesha South High School Band injured in the parade, shows up to every court date and doesn’t want Brooks’ trial moved out of town.
“I feel like it should take place here, and I have full confidence in them to keep it here,” he said. “Regardless of the decision made though, I find peace in the fact that he’s never going to be a free man. I have faith he will be found guilty."
Tyler continues to rise above the tragedy. This week, he picked up his saxophone for the first time since the parade. He was playing the instrument when he was struck. His teeth were knocked out, and he suffered serious internal injuries.
"All of us who were affected just have to stay together and fight through it,” Pudleiner said.