legal experts see intent matter – .

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legal experts see intent matter – .


The man accused of ramming his SUV into a parade of Christmas walkers could have turned into a side street, but did not. Once he passed it, he never touched the brakes – slipping through and leaving bodies in his wake, according to a criminal complaint.

No reason has been given for Darrell Brooks Jr., the suspect in the suburban Milwaukee crash on Sunday that killed six people and injured more than 60 others, but it doesn’t matter if he stands on trial. Legal experts say the evidence strongly supports the intentional homicide charges which would result in life in prison.

Former Waukesha County District Attorney Paul Bucher said it might be difficult to prove the intent of the first person Brooks hit, “but when he went on and knowing what he had done to the first person and didn’t stop, so everything was intentional. “

Brooks, 39, is charged with five counts of first degree intentional homicide and is set to face a sixth count after the death of an 8-year-old boy on Tuesday. Waukesha County Prosecutor Susan Opper also said additional charges were likely.

Brooks’ attorneys Jeremy Perri and Anna Kees have warned people not to try the case until all the facts are known.

“It is essential that we do not rush to judge and instead treat these proceedings and all those involved with dignity and respect,” they said in a statement.

“This includes Mr. Brooks, who is entitled to a vigorous defense and careful protection of his constitutional rights. No matter how serious and emotional the charges are, until the government proves their allegations beyond a reasonable doubt, our client is presumed innocent. “

Opper said Wednesday his office would not comment on an ongoing case.

Brooks is accused of refusing to stop even as an officer banged the hood of his SUV. Another policeman fired three shots into the vehicle, but it did not stop.

Five people aged between 52 and 81 were declared dead within hours. One of the many injured children, Jackson Sparks, 8, died on Tuesday. Several of the injured are still in critical condition.

Brooks has not spoken publicly and it is unclear what, if any, he told investigators.

But even if Brooks was under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time – and the police did not say he was – it could not be used as a defense in Wisconsin, have said experts.

Tom Grieve, a Brookfield defense attorney and former Waukesha County district attorney, said one possible defense would be that Brooks suffered from a mental illness or defect. A jury would have to decide whether he was guilty of the charges and then whether he had a mental illness. Such a discovery would likely land him in a mental institution rather than jail.

Opper could have charged Brooks with first degree reckless homicide, which would have been a “slam dunk” conviction which, given Brooks’ age, would have been an effective life sentence, Bucher said. But plenty of videos and other evidence also support the more serious charge, he and other experts said.

“The fact that he didn’t apply the brakes: it was intentional. The fact that his foot was on the accelerator: it was intentional. He could have stopped ª He’s the only person who could put his foot on the brake pedal and he didn’t, ”said Grieve.

A criminal complaint detailing the charges includes statements from police officers and witnesses who said the vehicle “appeared to be intentionally moving side to side”, with no attempt to slow down or stop as it hit several people and stole bodies and objects.

An officer who tried to stop the vehicle said Brooks was looking directly at him and appeared to have no emotion on his face, according to the complaint.

Prosecutors would not be allowed to take police officers or bystanders to the bar to speculate on what Brooks intended to do or his state of mind, experts have said.

Bucher said prosecutors would also not be able to introduce social media posts made by aspiring rapper Brooks or lyrics from his songs suggesting an interest in violence – which has become the topic. widespread speculation on social media that Brooks’ actions were intentional.

Brooks has included social media links to his songs, several of which apparently celebrate violence and call the police “pigs.” In a biography on his SoundCloud account, he refers to his childhood in Milwaukee’s “dangerous neighborhood on the west side of Washington Park” in Milwaukee, his “multiple legal battles” and his desire to transform the “life he lived in the street ”to music.

Brooks, who has been charged with crimes more than a dozen times since 1999, had two cases pending against him at the time of the parade disaster, including one earlier in November in which he is accused of intentionally hitting a woman with her car in Milwaukee County. . He had been released on $ 1,000 bail for the case, which prosecutors said was now excessively low.

And on Sunday, Brooks was leaving the scene of a family row that took place minutes before he set off on the parade route, Waukesha Police Chief Dan Thompson said.

Several experts predicted a plea deal.

“If I was like that, what I would try to do was see how I can put this fire out as quickly as possible,” said Phil Turner, a former federal prosecutor who now works in private practice at Chicago. “If you let this linger, it will only get worse. ”

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