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Driver in fatal Wisconsin Christmas parade crash pleads not guilty to 77 charges

Brooks’ attorney “has maintained that [Brooks] couldn’t turn off the parade route Nov. 21 in downtown Waukesha because side streets were barricaded and full of spectators.”
Brooks appears in Waukesha County Court in Waukesha, Wis., on Nov. 23, 2021.
Brooks appears in Waukesha County Court in Waukesha, Wis., on Nov. 23, 2021.Mark Hoffman / Reuters file

Darrell Brooks Jr., the Wisconsin man accused of driving a car through a Christmas parade last November, fatally striking six and injuring dozens, pleaded not guilty to 77 counts, including six felony homicide charges, at an initial court hearing Friday.

Brooks, 39 faces up to life in prison if convicted.

NBC News affiliate WTMJ of Milwaukee reported that Brooks’ attorney “has maintained that [Brooks] couldn’t turn off the parade route Nov. 21 in downtown Waukesha because side streets were barricaded and full of spectators.”

Jeremy Perri, Brooks’ attorney, asked for and received a new judge assignment for the case, and this new judge will rule on a defense motion to move the trial or draw its jury from outside of Waukesha County.

Perri did not respond to a NBC News request for comment.

“I just feel like I’m being monster — demonized,” Brooks, told Fox News from a jailhouse interview last December.

The January criminal complaint against Brooks alleged that on Nov. 21, Brooks beat the mother of his child for failing to bail him out of jail for an arrest earlier in the month — for breaking her leg by running her over with the same car, she alleged.

The complaint alleges that immediately after beating his son’s mother in the vehicle, Brooks drove through the parade, zig-zagging at 25 miles per hour through blocks of a clearly-marked parade route filled with hundreds of townspeople, even leaning out of the driver’s window to be able to see after a body blocked his windshield view.

He was arrested shortly after he showed up on a town resident’s porch and asked to be let inside to call an Uber, telling the person, who uploaded doorbell video of the encounter, that he was “homeless.”

Following the parade crash, Milwaukee County prosecutors came under scrutiny for setting Brooks’ bail for that first November arrest arrest at $1,000, which the suspect apparently posted two days after he was arrested, allowing him to walk out jail.

Milwaukee County District Attorney stated in December that their own bail recommendation in that case “was inappropriately low in light of the nature of the recent charges and the pending charges against Mr. Brooks.”

Brooks is next due in court March 11.

This story first appeared on NBCNews.com.

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