Judge sets October trial for man in Wisconsin parade deaths

FILE - Darrell Brooks Jr. appears in Waukesha County court on Friday, Jan. 14, 2022 in Waukesha, Wis. A judge was set to consider a request Friday to move the trial of a man accused ofdriving his SUV into a suburban Milwaukee Christmas parade, killing six people and injuring scores more. Attorneys forDarrell Brooks Jr.filed a change-of-venue motion last month asking that the trial either be moved or that jurors be pulled from a different county. (Derek Johnson/Waukesha Freeman via AP, Pool File) (Derek Johnson)

WAUKESHA, Wis. – A judge set an October trial date Friday for a man accused of killing six people and injuring dozens of others by driving his SUV into a Christmas parade in suburban Milwaukee last year.

Darrell Brooks Jr. has pleaded not guilty to more than 70 charges, including six homicide counts in connection with the Nov. 21 incident in downtown Waukesha.

Waukesha County Circuit Judge Jennifer Darow scheduled Brooks' trial to begin Oct. 3 and run through Oct. 28. Prosecutors told her they would likely need five to seven days to present their case. Brooks' attorneys said they didn't know how much time they would need.

Darow acknowledged during the hearing that she knows the father of one of the people who were killed. She said her family has hired him in the past to perform legal work for them, he donated $500 to her judicial campaign and she offered him her condolences after the parade via text messages. She said she hasn’t interacted with him since those texts and pledged to officiate the case impartially.

Darow also ordered both sides to begin drafting a survey to mail to prospective jurors in Waukesha County to gauge whether an impartial jury can be selected in the county. The judge made the move after Brooks' attorney filed a motion last month seeking to move the trial out of Waukesha County or pull jurors from another county because publicity about Brooks has been so pervasive and negative.

Brooks’ attorneys noted in the motion that the community has adopted a “Waukesha Strong” slogan, people built a temporary memorial to the dead and media outlets have used photos of Brooks in court in chains. They also pointed out that first lady Jill Biden visited Waukesha and her remarks calling the parade crash a “tragedy” were widely reported. On social media, people have called for Brooks to be put to death, they added.