Darrell Brooks Jr. looked down as a Waukesha County court judge read out 76 guilty verdicts, one after another, in late October. He sat alone at the defense table, and had been throughout the trial, but faced countless victims, police officers and witnesses since the day his fate was changed forever.
Brooks, the man who drove his red Ford SUV through crowds of revelers at a Wisconsin Christmas parade, fired his court-appointed attorneys before his trial began in October, opting instead to represent himself. same.
And just weeks earlier, a Florida man named Trevor Summers fired his defense attorney in the middle of his trial for the attempted murder of his ex-wife. Instead, he chose to represent himself throughout the rest of the proceedings, including during cross-examination by her ex-spouse, who also accused him of raping her and holding her hostage for days.
Brooks and Summers joined a small group of defendants who chose to be “pro-se litigators,” those who represent themselves during trial.
DARRELL BROOKS JR.
Brooks, 41, drove his Ford Escape through a crowd of parade goers, including children and the elderly, during a Christmas celebration on Nov. 21, 2021. He was fleeing the scene of a fight with his ex at the time. .
He was charged with six counts of first-degree intentional homicide, each of which carries a life sentence, with prosecutors soon adding dozens more counts. Brooks initially pleaded not guilty and later changed his plea to not guilty by reason of mental illness.
The deceased victims were identified as 8-year-old Jackson Sparks; Tamara Durand, 52; Jane Kulich, 52; LeAnna Owen, 71; Virginia Sorenson, 79; and Wilhelm, 81.
In December, Brooks told Fox News Digital that he felt “dehumanized” and was being “demonized.”
Waukesha County Judge Jennifer Dorow ruled in late September that she would allow Brooks to waive his right to an attorney and instead represent himself.
DARRELL BROOKS TRIAL: DEFENDANT INTERRUPTS COURT AS JURY SELECTION BEGINS IN WAUKESHA CHRISTMAS PARADE ATTACK
Brooks’ mother, Dawn Woods, wrote a letter to Dorow before his ruling, saying she had been concerned about her son’s “state of mind” for the past month. She said she told former attorneys for Brooks that she believed she was “becoming unstable,” according to a copy of the letter obtained by FOX 6.
DARRELL BROOKS IN COURT:
“Now I’m asking you please please don’t let him represent himself,” she wrote. He later added: “I ask the court to recognize his unstable mental state and rule in his best interest.”
But Dorow had found “no evidence” to show that Brooks suffered from a mental disorder, according to the report. Brooks was evaluated by four separate psychologists, who found that he could stand up for himself and was intelligent, even though he had “a personality disorder and is disruptive,” FOX 6 reported.
During the trial, Brooks behaved erratically and argued with the judge, prosecutors, and even witnesses.
He raised countless frivolous objections throughout the proceedings and behaved so outrageously on occasion that Dorow repeatedly relegated him to a different room for trial, equivalent to a “time out.”
Brooks also rejected his own name and argued that he was a sovereign citizen.
A jury took only three hours to deliberate. When the guilty verdicts were read on October 26, someone from the gallery yelled, “Burn in hell, you piece of m—.”
Brooks is scheduled to be sentenced later this month.
Summers fired his defense attorney suddenly and in the middle of his August trial in Tampa’s Hillsborough County Circuit Court.
The 45-year-old was accused of sneaking into his ex-wife’s house through a window in their home in March 2017 and holding her hostage for two days. During that time, he tied her up, sexually assaulted her, smothered her unconscious, and tried to strangle her.
Prosecutors argued that he was trying to commit a murder-suicide.
The woman survived and testified, even under cross-examination from her ex-husband she tried to murder.
During questioning, Summers asked the woman, “Did I threaten you into having sex?”
FLORIDA MAN FOUND GUILTY OF RAPING HIS WIFE AFTER FIRING LAWYER SO HE CAN INTERROGATE HER
“You broke into my house in the middle of the night when I was sleeping, attacked me and tied me up. Yes, I take it as if you threatened me to have sex with you. You forced me to have sex with you,” he said. she answered her.
Summer then asked, “So you’re calling it rape?”
FLORIDA MAN ON TRIAL FOR RAPE OF EX-WIFE FIRES LAWYER AND COUNTERS VICTIM
“That’s the definition of rape,” the distraught woman said.
A jury deliberated for just five hours before finding Summers guilty on 11 counts, including kidnapping, rape and attempted murder, in late August.
9/11 CONSPIRATOR ZACARIAS MOUSSAOUI
Moussaoui was the only person charged or convicted in connection with the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York City.
The self-proclaimed al Qaeda member represented himself for only part of his 2006 trial.
Moussaoui was arrested before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in August after Minnesota flight school officials became suspicious when he asked to be taught how to fly a Boeing 747, NPR.com reported. He was indicted months later on half a dozen 9/11-related conspiracy charges.
Prosecutors argued at trial that Moussaoui’s lies at the time of his arrest prevented FBI agents from foiling the attack.
A judge allowed Moussaoui to represent himself during the trial of the 2002 case.
But in November 2003, the judge reversed course and ended Moussaoui’s pro-se litigation, ruling that he had filed “incendiary and unprofessional” documents, reported NPR.com.
ZACARIAS MOUSSAOUI, ONLY 9/11 TERRORIST SENTENCED IN US COURT, SAYS HE RENOUNCES TERROR, BIN LADEN
Little evidence showed that Moussaoui, often known as the 20th hijacker, was expected to hijack a plane on 9/11.
Moussaoui was ordered to spend the rest of his life in federal prison, but avoided a death sentence.
The vicious but charming and confident serial killer was convicted of killing three women, but has admitted to killing at least 30.
Bundy insists on acting as his own attorney during parts of his Florida trials. In the first case, Bundy was tried for killing two Florida State University students in 1979. He headed to trial a year later for the murder of 12-year-old Kimberly Diane Leach.
An investigator who worked with Bundy’s appointed public defenders said Bundy, a former law student, drank alcohol from a juice can and possibly also used drugs during the 1980 trial, the Associated Press reported.
The judge who presided over Bundy’s second trial later testified that the convict “was one of the most intelligent, eloquent and consistent defendants I have ever seen,” the AP reported.
Judge Wallace Jopling told a federal court in Orlando that Bundy “did a little digress” but otherwise represented himself “convincingly, logically and consistently.”
When Jopling sentenced Bundy to death in 1980, he told the killer he saw him “as a man of great ability,” the report says.
“He has all the skills a young man could hope to have to be successful in life,” the judge said. “Instead, you committed vile and shockingly evil crimes.”
Bundy was executed in Florida on January 24, 1989.
The hippie cult leader was accused of leading a group of his followers to murder nine people in four separate incidents in Los Angeles in 1969.
The cult, known as the “family,” carried out its gruesome crime spree against wealthy victims in an alleged attempt to start a race war.
Manson was briefly granted permission to represent himself at trial for some of the murders in 1970, but the judge later rescinded the permission, according to reports at the time.
“I am satisfied that if I were to go to trial before a jury on charges as complex as these, it would be a fundamental denial of due process,” Judge William B. Keene said during a March 6, 1970, hearing in a California court.
Manson had reportedly recently filed a 17-page motion asking to be called “Charlie,” to send a pair of deputy district attorneys to jail, and to be allowed to travel to interview potential witnesses.
CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP
The judge reportedly added at the hearing: “You are incapable of acting as your own lawyer.”
Michael Ruiz, Rebecca Rosenberg and the Associated Press of Fox News Digital contributed to this report.