A history of Waukesha parade suspect Darrell Brooks' criminal record
Editor's note: On Oct. 26, 2022, Darrell Brooks was found guilty on all counts in the Waukesha Christmas Parade attack. See the latest coverage here.
The 40-year-old man accused of driving into the Waukesha Christmas Parade last year and killing six people, including an 8-year-old boy, is heading to trial.
Tamara L. Carlson Durand, Virginia "Ginny" E. Sorenson, Leanna "Lee" Owen, Wilhelm "Bill" Hospel, Jane Kulich and Jackson Sparks died in the attack. More than 60 others were injured.
The suspect, Darrell Brooks Jr., is charged with six counts of first-degree intentional homicide and 71 other counts in the parade attack, which authorities say happened after Brooks was involved in a domestic disturbance in a nearby Waukesha park.
His case has brought attention to bail practices in Wisconsin, the link between domestic violence and mass killings, and the gaps within the criminal justice system that allowed him to escape accountability for years.
Authorities in at least three states have had contact with Brooks, a Milwaukee native, throughout his life. The following timeline provides details on those interactions. It was compiled from police reports, court documents and other public records.
More:Darrell Brooks found guilty in Waukesha Christmas Parade attacks
More:Our coverage of the 2021 Waukesha Christmas Parade tragedy
More:How police, prosecutors and courts across three states failed to hold Darrell Brooks accountable
Sept. 5, 1999
Darrell Brooks Jr. is charged with substantial battery in Milwaukee County.
Sept. 22, 2000
Brooks receives three years probation in the battery case with six months in the House of Correction, a dormitory-style facility in Franklin, after pleading guilty.
2002 - 2003
Brooks is charged with two low-level crimes, marijuana possession and misdemeanor obstruction, in Milwaukee County. He is sentenced to a total of 70 days in the House of Correction.
Feb. 21, 2005
Brooks is charged with obstruction in Manitowoc County. He later fails to appear in court and a judge issues a bench warrant.
Brooks is convicted of statutory sexual seduction after impregnating a 15-year-old girl in Sparks, Nevada. He is required to register as a sex offender.
A year later, Brooks wrote to the judge to ask for more credit for the time served. In the letter, he said he grew up in Milwaukee without a father but had a supportive mother. He said he was hospitalized for mental health conditions at age 12.
A documentary about methamphetamine addiction called "Crystal Darkness" is released. It features an interview with Brooks while he was jailed in Reno, Nevada.
"You actually become the drug, not even a human being," Brooks says.
Aug. 5, 2009
Brooks is back in Wisconsin. He pleads no contest and is found guilty in the 2005 Manitowoc obstruction case. He is sentenced to two days (time served).
Feb. 24, 2010
Brooks is charged with strangulation, battery and criminal damage to property in Wood County after a woman told police he had shoved her to the ground during an argument and grabbed her throat.
Aug. 30, 2010
Brooks pleads no-contest to the strangulation charge and is found guilty. The other counts are dismissed as part of a plea agreement. He is sentenced to 90 days in jail with work release and three years probation.
March 25, 2011
Brooks is charged with resisting an officer in Milwaukee County after trying to flee a traffic stop when officers stopped him for not wearing a seatbelt.
During the stop, Brooks turned on his car and put it in drive. The officer says he feared Brooks was going to run him over.
Aug. 1, 2011
His probation is revoked from the Wood County strangulation case and he is sent to jail for 11 months.
May 15, 2012
Brooks pleads guilty in the resisting case from the Milwaukee traffic stop and is sentenced to 37 days in the House of Correction.
Nov. 20, 2012
A sex offender sweep in Nevada finds Brooks had provided a false address on his registration.
June 23, 2016
Police in Sparks, Nevada, arrest Brooks for failing to obey sex offender laws. He had not been in compliance with the registry since 2008.
Brooks posts bail in the case but later fails to appear in court. A warrant is issued for his arrest.
It's unclear exactly when Brooks moves back to Wisconsin after this, but once he did so, he had 10 days to register in Wisconsin. He never did.
Despite his repeated contacts with Wisconsin law enforcement, no one here realized he was a sex offender until after the parade attack.
July 28, 2020
Brooks is accused of shooting at a relative and the relative’s friend during an argument in Milwaukee. No one is injured in the shooting.
He is charged with two counts of second-degree recklessly endangering safety and one count of felon in possession of a firearm.
A transcript of his initial appearance shows a prosecutor recommended $15,000 bail.
Brooks’ attorney asked the judge to follow the pretrial risk assessment which recommended a signature bond — meaning a promise to appear with a monetary penalty if you fail to do so — or to set it at $500.
Judge David Feiss sets bail at $10,000.
Aug. 7, 2020
Brooks enters a speedy trial demand in the shooting case.
Aug. 13, 2020
Brooks’ attorney argues for lower bail. Feiss, the judge, agrees and sets it at $7,500.
Feb. 9, 2021
Brooks is scheduled for a jury trial but his trial cannot proceed because of another ongoing trial in the courtroom. His case is postponed and bail lowered to $500, which is posted days later.
March 26, 2021
A Waukesha County prosecutor asks for Brooks to be found in contempt of court and violation of court orders in a long-running child support case.
Brooks gets a stayed sentence of 120 days in jail with work release privileges to be imposed anytime in the next two years if doesn’t make his monthly payments in full.
May 27, 2021
Brooks is arrested by police in Union City, Georgia, in a domestic violence case. A man tells police he confronted Brooks after hearing what sounded like Brooks beating a woman on the other side of a wall in a hotel.
May 28, 2021
Brooks makes his first court appearance in Georgia and receives a signature bond, meaning he signed a document promising to show up for future court dates. He later misses an October 2021 court date.
June 21, 2021
Brooks appears in Milwaukee County court in person with his attorney for a status hearing in his 2020 shooting case.
June 28, 2021
Brooks' jury trial in the 2020 shooting case is scheduled to start. Instead, the trial is postponed "due to court congestion," meaning other cases needed to be heard in the courtroom.
Nov. 2, 2021
A woman tells Milwaukee police that Brooks punched and drove over her leg during an argument at a gas station.
Brooks is arrested and booked into Milwaukee County Jail. As part of the intake process, sheriff’s deputies checked the National Crime Information Center for his background.
The years-long open warrant for skipping court in Nevada and his recent arrest in Georgia had not been entered by those agencies, so they did not appear in the report.
Nov. 3, 2021
Brooks calls his mother from Milwaukee County Jail and says prosecutors can’t pursue the domestic violence case if the victim does not cooperate. Jail calls are recorded.
Nov. 4, 2021
Brooks calls the victim in the domestic violence case. It is the first of several calls trying to get her to recant, or take back, her account to police.
Nov. 5, 2021
Brooks is charged with running over the woman at the gas station.
He faces counts of felony bail jumping, second-degree recklessly endangering safety, resisting an officer, disorderly conduct and battery, with several domestic abuse assessments attached to the charges.
The prosecutor looked at the bail Brooks had posted in his 2020 Milwaukee County case — $500 — and doubled it, recommending he be held on $1,000.
Court Commissioner Cedric Cornwall agreed and set bail at that amount, even though the county's pretrial risk assessment showed Brooks to be at fairly high risk for release from jail.
The prosecutor's recommendation was later described as “inappropriately low” by her boss, Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm.
Nov. 11, 2021
Brooks’ mother posts his $1,000 bail in the domestic violence case.
Nov. 16, 2021
Brooks is released from Milwaukee County Jail. He has a "hold" from the Waukesha County Sheriff's Department related to his open child-support case. Brooks is taken directly to Waukesha County Jail.
Brooks appears before Waukesha County Court Commissioner David Herring. The prosecutor wants the jail time to be imposed immediately. Brooks says he could not pay because he was in custody for six months in Georgia, from about April to September.
Herring issues a stay, or postpones, the jail-time order and allows Brooks to be released on his own recognizance in the paternity case.
No one in court that day checks Wisconsin's online court records, which showed Brooks had appeared in person in Milwaukee County in June — in the middle of the timeframe he said he was in custody in Georgia.
Nov. 21, 2021
Police say Brooks is involved in a "domestic disturbance" and then drives through the Waukesha Christmas Parade route, killing five people and injuring more than 60 others. He is arrested that night.
The victims who died in the attack that night are Tamara L. Carlson Durand, Virginia "Ginny" E. Sorenson, Leanna "Lee" Owen, Wilhelm "Bill" Hospel and Jane Kulich.
Nov. 23, 2021
Brooks is charged with dozens of felonies, including five charges of first-degree intentional homicide, in the parade attack. His bail is set at $5 million.
A sixth homicide charge is added after the death of 8-year-old Jackson Sparks, who had been critically injured in the attack.
Nov. 30, 2021
Investigators with the Milwaukee County District Attorney's Office meet with the victim in the domestic violence case and play her portions of the recorded jail calls. She identifies the voices as her and Brooks.
Dec. 1, 2021
Brooks' mother releases a statement to reporters, offering condolences to the victims of the parade tragedy and emphasizing her son's longstanding mental health issues.
"Darrell has suffered from mental health issues since he was very young. In those years he received counseling and was on medication," she wrote. "When he became an adult a decision was made that he no longer suffered from a mental illness. That decision left him with no insurance or financial means to pay for medication and when determined (sic) necessary counseling."
She added: "Instead of offering help and resources to combat the problem a jail cell was given. Over and over again. When mental illness is not properly treated the person becomes sicker and sicker. It doesn't go away once a person becomes an adult."
The same day, Fox News reporters publish their account of a brief jailhouse interview with Brooks.
"I just feel like I'm being monster — demonized," Brooks told Fox News, adding that he feels he's been "dehumanized."
Dec. 6, 2021
Brooks is charged with witness intimidation counts in Milwaukee County in the domestic violence case.
June 20, 2022
Brooks seeks to change his plea in the parade attack to not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect — commonly known as an insanity defense.
Aug. 26, 2022
Waukesha County Judge Jennifer Dorow rules against two defense motions to dismiss the case related to what Brooks' attorneys considered an improper search of his jail cell in July and to suppress his statements made to investigators last November.
Sept. 9, 2022
Brooks withdraws his insanity defense in the parade case, suggesting court-ordered psychiatric evaluations did not support his claim.
Sept. 28, 2022
Judge Dorow grants Brooks' request to represent himself at trial, and allows the two lawyers who had been representing him to withdraw.
Oct. 3, 2022
Jury selection is scheduled to begin in the parade case.
Contact Ashley Luthern at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at @aluthern.