WAUKESHA, Wis. (AP) — A man accused of killing six people and injuring dozens more when he allegedly drove his SUV through a Christmas parade in Wisconsin last year managed to delay the start of his trial Monday by becoming so disruptive the judge had to take multiple breaks before forcing him to watch the proceedings via video from another room.
Prosecutors allege Darrell Brooks drove his vehicle into the Nov. 21 parade in downtown Waukesha despite police warnings to stop and officers opening fire on him. He faces 77 charges, including six counts of first-degree intentional homicide and 61 counts of reckless endangerment. Each homicide charge carries a mandatory life sentence.
Brooks’ trial was scheduled to begin Monday morning with jury selection. He initially pleaded not guilty by reason of mental disease, a move that could have resulted in him being sentenced to a mental institution rather than prison. But he withdrew that plea in September and last week persuaded Waukesha County Judge Jennifer Dorow to let him represent himself.
Before prospective jurors were led into the courtroom Monday morning, Brooks repeatedly interrupted Dorow, saying he didn’t recognize the state of Wisconsin or Dorow as a judge. Dorow called a recess and sent Brooks back to his cell.
It went on like that throughout the morning, with Dorow calling Brooks back into court only for him to again become disruptive. He repeatedly asked Dorow to state her name and questioned the court’s jurisdiction.
Dorow warned Brooks that if he continues to be disruptive she could appoint an attorney to the case. She ultimately called 10 recesses before ordering him to participate via video from another room. He was unmuted and allowed to ask questions of a jail administrator about when he received discovery documents after Dorow allowed him to act as his own attorney.
The jury selection process finally began at about 2 p.m.
Dorow said in court documents that she anticipates calling 340 prospective jurors. The selection process could last three or four days, she said, before 16 jurors are finally selected. Twelve will decide the case; the other four will serve as alternates.