Waukesha Parade Murderer Darrel Brooks Gets 6 Life Sentences+1,229 Yrs
A year ago, November 21st 2021, just two days after Kyle Rittenhouse was found Not Guilty by a Kenosha Jury, Wisconsin would be rocked again with another even more tragic event in the state. Darrell Brooks Jr. drove his vehicle down a parade route after fleeing a physical altercation with his ex-girlfriend Erika Patterson, striking 69 people, killing six.
After a year long pre-trial process and a three week trial, a jury unanimously convicted Brooks on all 76 charges. Today, 11/16/21, just five days before the one year anniversary of the 2022’s Waukesha Christmas Parade, Judge Dorow handed down the maximum sentence on Brooks. Judge Dorow has been praised not only in Waukesha as a mother to the city, but also praised around the world for how she handled the case receiving hundreds of emails, letters, cards and gifts. Dorow sentenced Brooks to six consecutive life sentences without the possibility of parole, for the intentional killing of Bill Hospel, Lee Owen, Jane Kulich, Ginny Sorenson, Tamara Durand and 8yr old Jackson Sparks. He was also sentenced to 1,067 years for the additional 68 people who were directly injured, 150 years for the Hit & Run causing death, 12 more years for the bail jumping charges and 9 months for the Battery charge to Erika Patterson, totaling 6 life sentences plus 1,229 years.
While this is the longest sentence I’ve personally ever heard, it is not the longest sentence in history. In 1981, in Tuscaloosa Alabama, Dudley Wayne Kyzer received the longest sentence which is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records, receiving 10,000 years for murdering his wife along with two Life Sentences for murdering his mother-in-law and a college student.
Earlier that day, I was in Kenosha filming a protest related to Rittenhouse’s Not Guilty verdict. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j4o6EbFZXis&t=1265s
At the protest I was physically assaulted by a right-wing live streamer, Carl Haliburton who streams under the CJTV Platform. Haliburton would later file a false and defamatory restraining order against me claiming I attacked him along with enticed a crowd of angry BLM protestors to attack and shoot him in an attempt to stop NSM for exposing him as a fraud. After a five month long restraining order hearing where Haliburton lied multiple times under oath and also tampered with and fabricated evidence with the assistance from the militia Kenosha Guard Commander, Kevin Mathewson, a Kenosha County Court Commissioner would rule in my favor that Haliburton produced no evidence to support any of his claims.
The original plan that day was to film the protest and race to Waukesha to film the parade. Due to the Kenosha incident I didn’t get back into Milwaukee until late in the evening. Viewers were blowing up my messenger and email regarding the parade incident. After an initial inquiry as to what was happening in Waukesha I decided not to go and film. Personally at this point, I was tired of viewers only wanting to tune into live streams with the hope of chaos, plus I was dealing with the altercation I’d been in as well as gathering information pertaining to NSM’s investigation of the Kenosha Riots. After witnessing first hand people dying in front of me during the Kenosha Riots and suffering from PTSD moments, I honestly didn’t think I could handle seeing more carnage spread across several city blocks of downtown Waukesha so I didn’t go. I followed the case very closely throughout the year.
I finally went down to the courthouse for the final day of the trial and the verdict day. Sitting in the courtroom watching the reaction of the jury and family members was extremely difficult for me. During DA Opper’s closing argument she played a video that was put together from the start of the fight with Erika Patterson, Brooks entering the parade striking parade members and running over others, and then his attempt to flee the city. This was the first time the public was shown video in full of the actual carnage that Brooks created that day. Most of what the public has been shown over the last year has been clips of the incident. Those watching via live streams were not shown the video. I sat and watched so attentively Brooks running people over as their bodies flew on the hood of the car while others were thrown across the street violently. It was the most graphic and heart wrenching thing I have ever watched. When Jackson was struck, that bravado and professional journalist in me disappeared and I broke down in tears. Waukesha Community members handed me tissues. Even my friend from a mainstream media outlet who was sitting next to me teared up. On our ride back to Milwaukee together we reflected on what we saw in court and how it affected us as journalists. While true journalism is supposed to be non-biased, this case was challenging to not feel a certain way towards Brooks. It struck something in me personally because my son is the same age as Jackson and more importantly my son’s name is Avery Jackson. He was originally going to be named Jackson Avery but we changed it at the last second. I immediately thought of him and how terrified his mother and I would be if this was our son. When I got home I cried more and got choked up during a live stream recap of the day which I’ve made for members only on the Never Stop Voices YouTube Channel. As much as I wanted to come back to court for the victim impact statements and sentencing, personally I just couldn’t do it. I watched the live stream via the Mercado Media Productions YouTube Channel, another friend and Independent Journalist out of Minnesota, from my living room and cried the entire day especially when the children spoke about their experiences. Even while writing this article with some of my own opinions and personal experiences I have tears in my eyes.
When I was at court, I had several agendas. I wanted to see firsthand the behavior that we all witnessed via live streams, I was hoping to see some form of humanity in Brooks that wasn’t coming through on the computer screen, and to find out who the gentleman was that was sitting behind Brooks during various trial days. What I saw on my computer screen was very similar to what I saw firsthand in court, only in court I got to see a scrawny, heartless, coward where the couple of times I was actually able to see his eyes, had this blank, cold look to them which I have seen before in murderers and pedophiles. They all seem to share this same look. After the closing arguments I walked outside for a much needed cigarette after the video I watched. The gentleman that was behind Brooks walked out and I stopped to ask if I could interview him. I explained who I was and what I did for a living hoping to gain trust from him so he would speak to me. Normally during an interview in true NSM fashion when people recite rhetoric or just plain nonsense, I would turn to mockery style questions to highlight just how dumb some people sound. While I corrected some of what he was saying, I didn’t want to go full on because so many people wondered who this guy was and what his intentions were. After the interview I walked back into the courthouse to hear about yet another disruption, The Reddit Post. Once I read the post, I immediately got this sickened feeling inside of me because things that were said in the post were eerily similar to what I just heard during my interview. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_LxEDbnNzwA&t=487s
I immediately flagged down a sheriff and expressed my concern. I was then taken to the two detectives who were handling the investigation and gave them a statement along with providing them the interview video. Now, normally I would not do this. Any article or video NSM has ever done, should there be evidence to something that Law Enforcement wanted, they would need to serve a subpoena for whatever they needed from me. I felt uncomfortable having a video that could possibly be evidence for an attempt to tamper with the court. NSM did several videos regarding this individual along with released a recorded phone call where the individual lied multiple times and even accused NSM of writing the post to intentionally set-up the Brooks supporter, which prompted another video by us. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FC6tLJcWqSI&t=607s
The investigation is still ongoing and we don’t know who was responsible for the Reddit Post, but for me, this wasn’t something I was just going to release and hope the public saw the video and reported it. Many viewers felt the same way I did watching the video that this could be the Reddit poster. We’ll have to wait and see as no details are getting released due to it being an active investigation. While I have investigated several officers within Waukesha including Joseph Mensah and Division Supervisor Michael Anderson and am personally not of fan of Waukesha Law Enforcement, I do have to say that the sheriff's within the courthouse were absolute sweethearts and everyone there was very accommodating not only to the families but also to media. It surprised me to hear sheriffs at the metal detector speaking about their loved ones who attended the parade getting phone calls from the sons or daughters that there was a mass shooting taking place. These sheriffs described being terrified for their family members. The ripple effect from Brooks touched hundreds in the community.
Immediately following the tragedy, Conservatives took to social media along with right wing media outlets claiming this incident was a retaliatory terrorist attack due to the Kyle Rittenhouse verdict due to Brooks having extremist Black Lives Matter posts on his various social media accounts. This rhetoric, even though it was debunked by law enforcement and by the evidence during the trial would continue to push a narrative to help Republicans with their mid-term elections. Thousands around the country would hold onto this belief and use this incident to discredit protest movements across the country. With dozens of racist ads that circulated prior to the mid-term elections there was also a spike in neo-Nazi and white-nationalist activity in Waukesha and other cities in Southeast Wisconsin.
Republican Party leaders like Terry Dittrich gave an interview for a documentary by a white supremacist group, “Terror in Waukesha.” The film was promoted by the National Justice Party (NJP), a group that formed in August 2020. Classified by the Anti-Defamation League as a neo-Nazi organization, the group fixated on Waukesha after the parade tragedy. Along with the neo-fascist group Patriot Front, held rallies in Waukesha.
As recently as July of this year, officers of the Waukesha Police Department (WPD) were still monitoring white supremacist activity, including stickers with racist symbols that appeared in public places, emails show. A local Waukesha bookstore had a black stuffed life-size doll placed outside their doors with racist stereotype features.
“Last weekend we had someone come thru [sic.] our downtown placing stickers on all our street lighting posts causing a public nuisance,” Jefferson Chief of Police Alan Richter said in an email to Waukesha PD. “We have had similar stickers put on signs in our area,” read a July 7 response from Waukesha PD Lt. Chad Pergande.
On Dec. 8 2021, a recruitment video for The Base was posted on the group’s Telegram channel. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), The Base consists of “small, terroristic cells,” often motivated to mobilize more covertly than groups like the NJP. “It is not a group that seeks to build popular appeal,” the SPLC page on the group reads. “Instead, groups like The Base seek to inspire a small number of actors to commit themselves wholly to their revolutionary mindset and act on it — either by forming small, clandestine terror cells or inspiring individuals to carry out ‘lone actor’ attacks.”
Let’s not forget about the Banner Drop that was done in Waukesha.
What amazed me and bothered me at the same time was while the rhetoric was running rampant and the increase in neo-Nazi’s activity was flooding the streets of Waukesha was the lack of acknowledgement towards the victims of the incident which was only done by the Waukesha District Attorney’s Office, not by those who hoped to elevate or jump start their careers in politics.
Each evening after watching the trial, I would tune into another YouTube Channel, The Lawyer You Know, a civil attorney named Peter Tragos, out of Florida who breaks down big cases so that us uneducated people understand the court process in simple terms. https://www.youtube.com/@LawyerYouKnow
Throughout all of the social media platforms it was also concerning the vast amount of people who were willing to strip someone of the Constitutional Rights because they did an evil and deplorable thing. It reminded me of mobs running to hang someone while crowds cheered on. The amount of racist comments that came through chats on the various live streams was insane, not surprising, especially with what I’ve seen in the last two years, but insane. I kept thinking, Jesus, what this guy did was horrendous, but he still has rights that need to be upheld.
Another set of questions and comments from viewers around the world was about Wisconsin’s Death Penalty. Do you guys have the death penalty in Wisconsin? I wish they would just kill this guy already. He deserves to die. Give him the injection. Hundreds of comments pertaining to this. For me, I’m against the death penalty, especially with regard to the amount of mistakes that have been made throughout the system and innocent people being put to death even with evidence that has shown they didn’t commit the crime and were wrongfully imprisoned. But Brooks brought me to question my own set of morals about the death penalty and whether I could live with a decision to cast down a death verdict towards someone I didn’t know, that didn’t harm me and I can absolutely understand why the public would be in favor of this especially after what I saw during the Brooks Trial.
In 1849, the Legislature in Wisconsin limited the use of the death penalty to First Degree Murder. The only man put to death under the 1849 Law was John McCaffary of Kenosha, who was convicted in 1851 of murdering his wife and was hanged publicly before an audience of several thousand people. Due to the horrific site of the hanging, struggling for 5 minutes and then another 18 minutes of his heart beating until his death, prompted opponents of the death penalty. They filed in the 1852 Legislature. Led by Christopher Latham Sholes of Milwaukee in the Assembly and Marvin Bovee of Summit in the Senate, they succeeded in the abolishment of the death penalty.
On July 10th 1853, the Death Penalty Repeal Act was signed into law, making Wisconsin the first state to permanently abolish the death penalty for all crimes. Rhode Island temporarily abolished the death penalty in 1852 but later reinstated it, and Michigan abolished the death penalty for all crimes except Treason in 1847.
Several events in Wisconsin history persuaded people to voice their support for reinstating the death penalty. Three separate lynching’s of murder defendants by mobs between 1854 & 1855 encouraged many people to favor reinstatement. In 1866 supporters of the execution of Civil War Confederate President Jefferson Davis tried to rally support for their cause by calling for the re-establishment of the death penalty in Wisconsin. In 1937 a bill to make kidnapping a Capital Offense was proposed following the much publicized kidnapping of aviator Charles Lindberg’s son. The most iconic push for reinstatement of the death penalty in Wisconsin came in the early 90’s with the serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer. With Dahmer’s death in prison and a declining murder rate, pressure to reinstate eased. Twenty-two bills for reinstatement were introduced between 1991 and 1996. None of them were able to make it through Legislative Committees. Most recently, a November 7th 2006 Advisory Referendum asked Wisconsin voters to weigh in on the debate. Should the death penalty be enacted in the state of Wisconsin for cases involving a person who is convicted of multiple First Degree Intentional Homicides? Fifty-five percent of the voters said they would favor Legislature’s restoration of the death penalty. Despite this slight majority vote, Wisconsin Legislators were not bound by the results of this referendum and did not choose to reinstate the death penalty.
The question now is, would the acts of Darrell Brooks Jr. create another push for the death penalty as punishment for someone considered the worst of the worst?