WAUKESHA - Darrell Brooks Jr. will face a jury beginning Thursday as the testimony phase of his homicide and reckless endangerment trial gets underway to adjudicate dozens of charges tied to the 2021 Waukesha Christmas Parade tragedy.
A 12-member jury plus four alternates were selected late Tuesday from the first 82 jurors interviewed from a pre-screened pool of more than 300 candidates.
The jury, consisting of six women and 10 men, was eventually finalized at 6:40 p.m.
Brooks is now facing 76 criminal charges: six counts of first-degree intentional homicide with use of a dangerous weapon, 61 counts of recklessly endangering safety with use of a dangerous weapon, six counts of hit-and-run involving death and two counts of bail jumping, all felonies; and one count of misdemeanor domestic abuse-battery.
The four-week trial — which could run longer, according to Waukesha County Circuit Judge Jennifer Dorow — is expected to involve dozens of witnesses, beginning with those called by the prosecution following opening statements Thursday.
Wednesday was set aside for court-related "housekeeping" actions heading into Thursday's more-active proceedings. It will take an estimated four hours for CourtTV to set up.
Here's what has happened so far on Day 2 of the trial.
Final steps in jury selection had a twist
In proceedings that repeatedly stalled as Brooks battled Dorow over courtroom procedures and routines, the jury wasn't finalized in the typical way.
About eight people were struck for cause, for either hardships or because they said they didn't think could be fair.
When it got to the point where each side could exercise peremptory strikes, without a stated reason, Brooks tried to strike out all the names on the list. Dorow declared he had waived his right to the strikes. Each time it was his turn to strike a juror, and he either tried to strike them all, wouldn't strike any, the clerk would pick a juror at random from a tumbler.
At the end, Brooks did finally make his choices for his final two strikes. Each side got 10, to cut the panel of 36 to 16 — twelve plus four alternates.
Brooks spent the process in the second courtroom.
Brooks was very disruptive again
Jury selection proceedings Tuesday began with his removal to another courtroom, following a similar pattern that started on Monday.
Proceedings were less than 10 minutes underway when Dorow told Brooks, who is acting as his own attorney, he was once again being disruptive and would have to participate from a different courtroom by video.
Once removed, Brooks was very demonstrative, standing and making many hand and arm gestures. His microphone was muted.
More jurors were brought in for questioning; some were struck for cause
Shortly after 9 a.m., Dorow brought in another 41 more jurors for questioning. She, the prosecutors and Brooks spent the next couple of hours hearing various members of the panel answer standard questions.
Around 11:30 a.m., Dorow announced she had concerns regarding six members of the panel, who said they had strong opinions about the case and couldn't be fair. Prosecutors and Brooks agreed they should be struck for cause.
Dorow also noted that Brooks had been paying attention and taking notes without the earlier histrionics. She asked him if he would like to return to the courtroom for the afternoon. Brooks gave a confusing response but again asked that all 41 members of the panel be struck. Dorow denied the request.
Brooks was removed often again
As was the case Monday, Dorow cited a 1970 U.S. Supreme Court case indicating the legality of removing Brooks to a neighboring courtroom and letting him participate from there.
That didn't stop Brooks from challenging Dorow's actions, up to and including a motion to dismiss the case on the basis of "judicial misconduct."
Dorow based her decision on constant interruptions, usually with a final warning informing him that one more interruption would result in his removal. Despite the warning, he immediately interrupted her again.
On both days, Dorow noted that Brooks' interruptions came as she was trying to list her findings, on whatever matter the court had been discussing, something she said she would not tolerate.
She also attributed the disruptions to what she previously termed "nonsensical" questions, such as asking Dorow to state her name, an approach tied to those claiming to be "sovereign" citizens not under the jurisdiction of the courts or certain laws.
On two occasions, once on Monday and again Tuesday morning, Brooks was invited back into the active courtroom to resume his place at the defense table. He declined, stating that he would rather "stay put" in the vacant courtroom, despite challenging the validity of his removal.
Bruce Vielmetti of the Journal Sentinel staff contributed to this report.
Contact Bruce Vielmetti at (414) 224-2187 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @ProofHearsay.
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This article originally appeared on Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Takeaways from Day 2 of Darrell Brooks Waukesha Christmas Parade trial