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The man accused of driving into the Waukesha Christmas parade is about to go on trial

Darrell Brooks, 40, faces 77 charges after driving a maroon SUV into a Christmas Parade in Waukesha, Wis., last November.
Mark Hoffman
Darrell Brooks, 40, faces 77 charges after driving a maroon SUV into a Christmas Parade in Waukesha, Wis., last November.

Last November, a suspect drove a maroon SUV into a crowd of people at the annual Waukesha Christmas Parade in Wisconsin, killing six. Darrell Brooks, 40, has been accused of being the driver and faces 77 criminal charges. He will represent himself at his trial, with jury selection scheduled to begin Monday.

Brooks is charged with six counts of first-degree intentional homicide and six counts of committing a hit-and-run causing a death, according to court documents. He also faces two charges of felony bail jumping and 67 counts of first-degree recklessly endangering safety with a dangerous weapon.

If convicted of a single first-degree intentional homicide — a Class A felony — he could face life in prison, according to Wisconsin law.

The defendant asked to represent himself

Waukesha County Circuit Judge Jennifer Dorow granted Brooks' request to waive his right to an attorney last Wednesday, NPR member station Wisconsin Public Radio reported.

According to WPR:

Dorow also said she believed Brooks was mentally competent enough to represent himself. Dorow also maintained that the start of the trial wouldn't be moved back.

Before being taken off the case, Brooks' now former attorney, Jeremy Perri, said he had explained the charges over 25 meetings. However, Brooks said he does not understand the charges, but is aware of them.

Additionally, public defenders won't be allowed to represent Brooks on standby, should he change his mind during the trial, court documents said.

Brooks had initially pleaded not guilty by mental disease or defect in June, but withdrew his plea in early September.

Brooks also faces domestic abuse charges

Waukesha Police Chief Daniel Thompson said last year that the police had missed an opportunity to stop Brooks shortly before he crashed his SUV into paradegoers.

"The suspect prior to the incident was involved in a domestic disturbance, which was minutes prior," Thompson told reporters last November. "And the suspect left that scene just prior to our arrival at that domestic disturbance."

Brooks is accused of confronting a woman outside of a motel before the parade, driving off after he knocked her phone out of her hand. Law enforcement said Brooks returned to the scene, punched her in the face and then ran her over with his vehicle.

Brooks has been charged with two counts of domestic abuse, a Class A misdemeanor, which comes with a maximum fine of $10,000 and no more than nine months in prison.

According to court documents, the trial is set to run until Oct. 28.

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Dustin Jones is a reporter for NPR's digital news desk. He mainly covers breaking news, but enjoys working on long-form narrative pieces.