The Wisconsin man accused of killing six people and injuring dozens as the result of driving his SUV through a crowd gathered for the Waukesha Christmas Parade last year has changed his plea to “not guilty by mental disease or defect.”
Darrell Brooks Jr. appeared in court with his attorney on Monday to announce the change in plea. Records filed with the Waukesha County Circuit Court show that Brooks was ordered to begin undergoing a mental evaluation following his plea amendment.
Circuit Judge Jennifer Dorow also denied a motion filed by Brooks’ attorneys seeking a change in location for his trial to a different county. The judge also denied a request that the jury pool for the trial be drawn from a different county.
The judge did direct that the jury pool to be drawn from Waukesha County would be expanded above the normal size and each side in the case would be granted additional time to question prospective jurors and extra strikes to eliminate jurors from the pool.
She also said that the jury would be sequestered at the courthouse during the hours the trial was being conducted but would be allowed to go home at night.
Defense attorneys for Brooks have also unsuccessfully attempted to have the trial date moved back, which is still currently scheduled to begin in early October.
Brooks has been charged with intentionally driving his vehicle through a crowd gathered at the parade that included many children and elderly persons. His bail was set at $5 million cash and he has been held in the Waukesha County Jail since the day of the alleged murders on November 21.
Brooks also faces charges of jumping bail and domestic abuse battery. About three weeks before the parade killings, he was charged for punching an ex-girlfriend and running over her with his car. He was released in that case on $1,000 bail, which he posted five days before the fatal parade.
Brooks’ lengthy criminal record includes shooting at his nephew and intentionally running over an ex-girlfriend in Milwaukee. He is a registered sex offender in Nevada and has served a jail term in Georgia for domestic violence.
His mother released a statement last year in which she laid blame on the Wisconsin criminal justice system for “failing her son.”
Brooks faces a total of 83 separate counts as a result of the attack. The charges include six counts of first-degree intentional homicide for the six victims who died because of Brooks’ actions. Each of those counts carries a life sentence under Wisconsin law.
The six persons killed in the attack ranged in age from 8 years old to 81.
Following his initial guilty plea, Brooks told Fox News last December that he was being “demonized” by the media and felt “dehumanized.”