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Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

NIEZGODA: Signs were there, Waukesha parade trials and tribulations

Photo via Wikimedia Commons.
Photo via Wikimedia Commons.

As the Waukesha Christmas Parade trial comes to a close, two verdicts were reached. Justice was uplifted by our judicial system as Darrell E. Brooks was sentenced to spend the rest of his life in prison, but it failed to uphold the severity of domestic and intimate partner violence charges. 

During a Christmas Parade in Waukesha Nov. 21 2021 , Brooks drove his red SUV and killed six people, injuring over sixty.

Three weeks prior to this incident, Brooks, who is a registered sex offender, was out on bail for punching his girlfriend in the face and running her over with the same SUV in a gas station parking lot. He should have never been released on bail, especially bail that was only $1000

Brooks chose to represent himself in this trial.

After 15 arduous days of trial, each marked by constant interruptions and false statements by Brooks, the jury came to a verdict. Judge Jennifer R. Dorow announced that Brooks was found guilty of all 77 charges, including 6 counts of intentional, first-degree homicide Oct 25. 

Throughout the trial, Brooks exhibited characteristics consistent among domestic violence abusers. He attempted to control, manipulate and intimidate the law through his erratic and inconsistent behavior. His former attorneys from the State Public Defender’s Office never suggested that Brooks was incompetent but did suggest that his courtroom antics were an act. 

His acts of disrespect towards Judge Dorow included frequent interruptions, removing his clothing, making a fort out of legal boxes, raising his voice and glaring menacingly at Judge Dorow. Brooks had to be consistently removed from the courtroom in order for the trial to conclude. 

Dawn Woods, Brooks’ mother, originally stated that this attempted massacre was a result of inadequate mental health resources. Brooks initially submitted a plea of not guilty due to reason of mental illness or defect, but this was eventually revoked and changed to not guilty as several doctors established he did not meet the standard for this plea.

Not only does Woods’ statement reinforce negative stereotypes about mental illness, but there also was a clear pattern of criminal behavior that was not addressed before and cannot be simplified into a lack of resources and support.

This trial demonstrates the broad and clear need to reevaluate standards for prosecution in cases regarding domestic abuse. 

Domestic and intimate partner violence cases are overlooked in the judicial system, despite their severity.  Intimate partner violence accounts for 15% of all violent crimes. In 2018, the State of Wisconsin did not prosecute 49.5% of all domestic abuse cases.

The CDC reports that one in three women have reported experiencing severe physical violence from an intimate partner in their lifetime. In the U.S., it is estimated that 20 people experience physical violence every minute from an intimate partner. This accounts for over 10 million men and women in a single year.

Domestic and intimate partner violence is a very real issue, affecting an alarming number of individuals. This stain on societal situations requires a solution—a solution that must be validated by the law.

It should not take the lives of six people being murdered by a man who had a prior record of abuse and sex offenses for domestic violence to be seriously considered in case processing. This should have been caught.

Now, due to the failure of the justice system, lives were unnecessarily lost and the city is now traumatized. The justice system must take domestic violence seriously. 

This trial brought a monstrous crime to justice but revealed another disturbing truth: the desperate need for accountability in cases involving domestic violence.

This story was written by Laura Niezgoda. She can be reached at [email protected]

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