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Waukesha Christmas Parade: Darrell Brooks withdraws not guilty plea by insanity

Judge Jennifer Dorow rescheduled the jury status hearing for Monday, Sept. 19 at 2 p.m.
Darrell Brooks Parade Scene.jpg
Posted at 2:42 PM, Sep 09, 2022

WAUKESHA, Wis. — The man accused in the Waukesha Christmas Parade attack, Darrell Brooks, withdrew his not guilty by insanity in court on Friday.

It was supposed to be the last hearing before his trial begins in 24 days, but it started late and ended abruptly just minutes after Brooks entered the courtroom.

According to defense attorneys, the hearing started half an hour late because jail personnel had a difficult time getting Brooks out of his cell, because he had been resting. Once he was in the courtroom, defense attorneys immediately asked for the hearing to be rescheduled because Brooks is in pain due to a tooth abscess.

“His throat, tooth and overall health today just aren’t good,” said Jeremy Perri, one of Brooks' defense attorneys. “If you deny this request to reschedule, it’s my understanding that Mr. Brooks would very much like to go back to his cell so he can lie down. Jail personnel confirms it’s been diagnosed as a tooth abscess.”

The prosecution immediately raised concerns. During the last hearing a few weeks ago, Brooks had an outburst in court, then asked the judge if he could go back to his cell because he didn’t want to be in the courtroom anymore.

“I think there’s a lack of information here, such as when did this situation develop?” asked Waukesha County District Attorney Sue Opper. “Has he seen a dentist or other medical professional who could provide some treatment? Was he offered remedies like aspirin, or other relief like an ice pack, or whatever it may take. I just want to ensure this is not a delay tactic to be very blunt with the court.”

Ultimately, after the prosecution privately conferred with parade victim families who showed up to court, Judge Jennifer Dorow agreed to reschedule the hearing because it will not impact or delay the start of Brooks trial set to begin Oct. 3.

One big thing happened before the hearing wrapped early. Brooks withdrew his plea of “Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity,” but didn’t elaborate why.

“Mr. Brooks I’d like to discuss with you your decision to withdraw the special plea of not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect,” said Judge Dorow. “Is that your desire?”

“Yes,” said Brooks. “I have my own reasons why.”

This signals a big change in how the case will proceed. Brooks' plea is now "Not Guilty."

Friday’s canceled hearing will be made up on Monday, Sept. 19. During which they're expected to finalize jury selection parameters.

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