Driver Charged With Killing 6 at Wisconsin Christmas Parade Pleads Not Guilty to 77 Charges

The man accused of driving through a suburban Wisconsin Christmas parade last year, killing six and wounding dozens, pleaded not guilty on Friday to all 77 charges filed against him.

Attorneys for Darrell Brooks Jr, 39, also filed requests on Thursday for a change in venue and that the jury be sequestered during trial. On Friday, defense attorney Jeremy Perri requested to replace Judge Michael Bohren with Chief Judge Jennifer Dorow, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.

The jury motions were not discussed on Friday, but the case was reassigned from Bohren to Dorow. The defense, which had a right to requested a change in the judge, did not say why it did so.

Brooks is accused of driving through the Waukesha Christmas Parade on November 21, hitting 61 people and killing six of them, as CrimeOnline previously reported.

Friday’s arraignment lasted less than three minutes as Brooks waived a reading of the charges and none of the victims had asked to speak.

In their change of venue motion, Brooks’s attorneys noted both the ubiquitous media coverage for the incident but also the widespread community support for the victims, which has included millions of dollars in donations, multiple vigils, and a visit from first lady Jill Biden.

“While publicity is certainly relevant to determining the issue in the present case, additional factors also demonstrate that, in this case and in Waukesha County, the passions and prejudice negatively affecting the Defendant’s constitutional right to a fair trial are so great that a change of venue is necessary to ensure a fair trial,” the attorneys wrote. “An impartial trial cannot be held in Waukesha County.”

The district attorney’s office has not yet responded to that motion.

Prosecutors say that Brooks was involved in a domestic dispute with his girlfriend just prior to the parade incident. That woman got out of his SUV just a few blocks away from where the parade was taking place at about 4:30 p.m. Brooks allegedly sped off and drove into the parade route, appearing to weave through the parade and striking parade participants and bystanders alike.

Virginia Sorenson, 79, LeAnna Owen, 71, Tamara Durand, 52, and Wilhelm Hospel, 81 — all part of the Dancing Grannies group, although Hospel was a helper and not a dancer — 42-year-old Citizen Bank employee Jane Kulich, and 8-year-old Jordan Sparks were killed in the incident, with Sparks dying in a hospital two days after being struck.

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[Featured image: Darrell Brooks Jr. in court on February 11, 2022. (Derek Johnson/Waukesha Freeman via AP, Pool)]