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What's next for Darrell Brooks after changing his plea in the Waukesha parade deaths case

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Chuck Quirmbach
/
WUWM
Waukesha County Judge Jennifer Dorow spoke for more than an hour Monday, explaining her decision not to move Darrell Brooks trial to another county, or bring in outside jurors. The photo was taken from a television screen fed by a media pool camera.

A Waukesha County judge has denied Darrell Brooks' request to have his upcoming trial moved out of the county or to have outside jurors brought in. But he has been allowed to change his plea to include an insanity defense.

Brooks is accused of killing six people and injuring dozens more by driving his vehicle through the Waukesha Christmas parade last November. His lawyers argued in court Monday that the results of a questionnaire sent to more than 1,500 potential jurors in Waukesha County, plus ongoing memorials and other actions related to the parade incident, showed Brooks could not get a fair trial in the county.

Waukesha County District Attorney Susan Opper briefly argued otherwise.

Then, it was Judge Jennifer Dorow's turn, and she spoke for more than an hour, laying out her denial of Brooks's change of venue motion. Dorow concluded:

"This court is committed to ensuring that the rights of Mr. Brooks to a fair trial and impartial jury are protected. The defense has failed to demonstrate that there is a likelihood of community prejudice so pervasive as to preclude the possibility of a fair trial in Waukesha County," Dorow said.

Dorow is promising the defense and prosecution that they'll be allowed extra scrutiny of the potential jury pool during discussions near the end of August—ahead of the trial scheduled to start in October.

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Chuck Quirmbach
/
WUWM
Defendant Darrell Brooks speaks with his lawyers prior to Monday's hearing. This photo is taken of a television screen in the media room of the Waukesha County Courthouse.

That's unless a move Monday by Brooks' defense team delays the proceedings. After losing on the change of venue motion, Brooks' public defender Jeremy Perri announced his client was changing his plea from not guilty to not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect.

A Milwaukee private sector defense attorney not involved in the case, Julius Kim, says what's likely next is a doctor's evaluation of Brooks.

"To determine whether this type of plea can be supported. Mainly the doctor is going to try to determine if, at the time of the incident, Mr. Brooks was able to confirm his behavior according to the law. Or that he appreciated wrong from right at the time that he committed these offenses—allegedly," Kim told WUWM Monday evening.

Judge Dorow has already given the OK to a doctor on retainer to the DA's office to evaluate Brooks.

Atty. Kim says he's not surprised that Brooks has changed his plea. But Kim says he's a little surprised at the timing, which is coming seven months after the Waukesha parade deaths and injuries.

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