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WUWM's coverage of the Darrell Brooks trial. He is the Milwaukee man accused of using his SUV to kill six people and injure dozens more at the Waukesha Christmas parade in 2021.

Request by Brooks' lawyers to delay Waukesha parade deaths trial until 2023 denied

Screengrab from Waukesha County Circuit Court Branch Two livestream
Judge Jennifer Dorow (upper left) issues her decision on whether the trial should be delayed, as the prosecution team (lower left) and defense team, including defendant Darrell Brooks, (lower right) listen.

The man accused of using his vehicle to kill six people and injure dozens at the Waukesha holiday parade last November has lost a bid to have his trial delayed until next year.

Attorneys for Darrell Brooks argued in Waukesha County court Monday that the trial should be pushed back from October of this year to at least March of 2023. Public Defender Jeremy Perri told the court his team may not be ready by October, and that the delay is a reasonable request.

"What we are doing is trying at this early stage to avoid an issue where we're at trial and we aren't prepared to offer Mr. Brooks his thorough defense that he's entitled to," Perri said.

Brooks has pleaded not guilty.

Waukesha County District Attorney Sue Opper argued there's still six months before the October trial date, and a half year delay beyond that would be tough on victims and their families.

"To have to tell these victims we're not going to do anything on this case for another year is really hard to swallow, right? They're not going to have any answers on what's going to happen for another year," Opper told the court.

Opper promised that DNA analysis of Brooks' vehicle will be completed soon and shared with the defense, and that other prosecution evidence about the case has already been handed over. Three relatives of parade victims then spoke in court against delaying the trial. Similarly, a victim assistance official read three statements from relatives unable or unwilling to speak. The common message was that a delay would hurt the community's ability to heal from the trauma.

Judge Jennifer Dorow then took a half-hour break. When she returned, Dorow ruled against delaying the trial. But she said it was a tough choice.

"I think everyone can anticipate this is not an easy decision for the court. Many competing interests and very important interests for everyone who is involved in this case. It's not a slam dunk, either way," she said.

Dorow also seemed to leave the door open to considering delaying the Brooks trial to November, if there's a later formal request for a shorter delay.

Dorow did not rule on a pending defense motion to move the trial to another county. But she set a date of June 20 to hear legal arguments on the matter. That hearing will be after the expected return of a questionnaire that'll be sent soon to possible Waukesha County jurors.

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