By GRETCHEN EHLKE
A man accused of killing six people and injuring dozens of others by driving an SUV through a Christmas parade in Wisconsin last year wants to represent himself in a trial that is scheduled to begin in a little more than a week.
Darrell Brooks Jr.’s public defender, Jeremy Perri, filed a motion in Waukesha County Circuit Court on Thursday requesting that he and assistant public defender Anna Kees be taken off the case because Brooks wants to represent himself.
A hearing on the motion is scheduled for Tuesday. It’s not clear what impact the motion, if granted by Judge Jennifer Dorow, might have on the Oct. 3 start date for Brooks’ trial on six homicide counts and about 70 other charges. Four weeks were set aside for the trial.
The motion is the latest development in a case that has seen some twists and turns. Brooks changed his not guilty plea in June to not guilty by reason of mental disease and defect, but two weeks ago withdrew the insanity defense.
When questioned by Dorrow, Brooks offered little explanation, saying, “I have my own reasons why.” He confirmed he discussed the change with his attorneys.
According to a criminal complaint, Brooks drove his SUV into the parade in Waukesha on Nov. 21. Witnesses said he was swerving and appeared to be intentionally trying to hit people. He was arrested minutes later as he stood on the porch of a nearby house asking the homeowner to help him call a ride.
Police said he had fled the scene of a domestic disturbance when he turned into the parade, although officers were not pursuing him at the time.
Last month, Dorow refused a defense motion to have the case against Brooks dismissed because of a July search of the defendant’s jail cell. Investigators and prosecutors were looking for information related to Brooks’ recent decision to change his plea.
At one point during the motions hearing, Waukesha County District Attorney Susan Opper asked the judge to note that Brooks appeared to have been sleeping during the proceeding. Dorow ordered a break and when the parties returned to the courtroom, Brooks lashed out and yelled at the judge before he was surrounded by three deputies and taken from the courtroom.