Judge says she was ‘scared’ after outburst

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The judge overseeing the trial for the man accused of killing six and wounding dozens in a 2021 Christmas parade said Friday the defendant was frightening her in court.

Darrell Brooks Jr., 40, slammed the table with his fists and became silent while fixing Judge Jennifer Dorow with an unblinking stare shortly after she said his accusations the state had coached his own witnesses “had absolutely no basis in fact.”

“This man right now is having a stare-down with me. It’s very disrespectful. He pounded his fist. Frankly, it makes me scared,” Judge Jennifer Dorow said in court while the jury was out of the room on Friday, calling for a break in proceedings. 

Brooks has been representing himself in a trial fraught with his frequent interruptions and outbursts in what prosecutors have characterized as an attempt to “stall, delay, disrupt, intimidate.”

Brooks is accused of driving a red SUV down the Waukesha, Wisconsin, parade route late last year and charged with six counts of first-degree intentional homicide, 61 counts of recklessly endangering safety, six counts of hit-and-run causing death, two counts of bail jumping — all felonies in connection to the parade tragedy — and one count of misdemeanor battery related to an incident with his ex-girlfriend.

Brooks was removed to another courtroom to participate virtually repeatedly on Friday, the latest move by the judge to control daily outbursts and interruptions from Brooks. Dorow allowed Brooks to come back to the main courtroom after some breaks.

Brooks’ witnesses Friday included his ex-girlfriend, whom he allegedly assaulted before driving the SUV down the parade route. He questioned his witnesses’ credibility and recollections of what they saw at the parade. 

He claimed several of the witnesses had been “schooled” by the district attorney’s office, statements Dorow said were baseless.

At one point, Brooks said during redirect of witness Katrice Babiasz, a law enforcement dispatch supervisor who attended the parade, that it “seems to me like a lot of your answers are coached.”

“It seems almost as if you’re recalling what you want to recall,” Brooks told Babiasz later in questioning, prompting the state to object that he was badgering the witness.

The judge warned Brooks not to badger or “intimidate” his witnesses. When Brooks retorted, asking how he was intimidating Babiasz, Dorow said, “by eye rolling, by pursing your lips, by making facial movements regarding her answers is badgering the witness.”

“You can’t be serious right now,” Brooks replied. “How are you even a judge?” 

After Dorow halted questioning and excused the jury for the day, Brooks continued to raise his voice and claim the court had “no integrity.” He was removed from the room a final time.

The prosecution rested its case Thursday after over a week and a half of testimony from parade participants and attendees who saw the SUV barrel over people, law enforcement officials who investigated and residents of the area where Brooks was arrested.

Brooks said he intends to call his mother as his last witness in his defense on Monday.

Contributing: Bruce Vielmetti and Quinn Clark, The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

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