Judge to decide if Wisconsin parade suspect will stand trial

MADISON, Wisconsin: A judge is set to decide on Friday (Jan 14) whether a Milwaukee man accused of ploughing his SUV through a Christmas parade, killing six people and injuring dozens more, will stand trial for murder.

Darrell Brooks Jr is set to appear in Waukesha County court before Judge Michael Bohren for a preliminary hearing. Such hearings, when the judge decides whether there’s enough evidence to hold a defendant for trial, are usually a formality, but can shed light on defence and prosecution strategies.

According to the criminal complaint, Brooks drove his mother’s maroon Ford Escape into the parade in downtown Waukesha on Nov 21. He kept going despite police officers’ demands to stop, with some officers telling investigators it appeared that the driver was trying to intentionally hit people, and “citizen witnesses” telling detectives that the SUV never slowed down.

Some of the people he hit flew up onto the hood of the Escape; at one point Brooks had to lean out the driver’s window to steer because a person had landed on the windshield, according to the complaint. Six people were killed and dozens more injured.

District Attorney Susan Opper charged Brooks with six counts of first-degree intentional homicide a few days later. He would face life in prison if he’s convicted on even one count.

Opper this week added scores of additional charges, including reckless endangerment, hit-and-run involving death, bail jumping and battery.