Darrell Brooks’ Parents: His Mother’s Thoughts on His Crimes

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Darrell Brooks’ emotional sentencing ended a trial that had gripped the nation due to the nature of the crime and the convict’s conduct. Brooks often clashed with Judge Jennifer Dorow, who sentenced Darrell to life in prison without the possibility of parole. The victims pleaded with Judge Dorow to impose the harshest possible sentence on Brooks; she obliged. 

Brooks’ mother, Dawn Woods, didn’t watch the sentencing but said she wasn’t surprised by the punishment. Woods told WISN 12:

“The hate will stop. The hate mail will stop. The hate emails that I’ve been receiving will stop, and people’s hearts begin to heal. My heart still goes out to the family. My condolences to all of them, but I hope they can begin to heal.”

Darrell’s mother regretted bailing him out of jail days before the tragedy 

Darrell Brook’s lengthy rap sheet ran as far back as 1999 and contained at least 16 criminal charges when he was arrested for allegedly punching the mother of his child and striking her with his vehicle. Brooks was released on a $1,000 bond posted by Dawn, a decision she and everyone regret.

A prosecutor in Milwaukee blamed an overworked assistant for approving Darrell Brooks’ bond. The prosecutor claimed the assistant didn’t see Darrell’s risk assessment. Two days later, Brooks drove a vehicle into a Christmas parade in Waukesha, Wisconsin, killing six people and injuring dozens. 

Brooks’ ex-girlfriend told the New York Post that Dawn regretted posting bail for Darrell. “She’s wrecked that people were killed as a result and she’s like, ‘I’m blaming myself, because had I not bailed him out, this wouldn’t have happened,’” she said. 

The woman said Dawn didn’t condone Darrell’s criminal behavior: “She’s always condemned everything that he’s done … even weed possession, she’s never condoned. She’s always been very resolute on, ‘You need to do better. You need to do right. This is not how I raised you.’”

Dawn told FOX6 News that she felt some responsibility for the tragedy. “Had I just not bailed him out, then none of this would have happened,” Woods said. 

Dawn Woods believes Brooks didn’t mean to harm anybody 

A week and a half after the tragedy, Dawn released a letter expressing condolences to the families of the dead, the injured, and the Waukesha community. Woods said Brooks didn’t come from an evil family, but he suffered from mental health issues from a young age. 

Dawn stated that Brooks was declared free of mental illness, leaving him without medication and counseling. “When mental illness is not properly treated the person becomes sicker and sicker,” Woods wrote. She continued:

“We are not making excuses but we believe what has happened is because he was not given the help and resources he needed. Institutions that are equipped and have trained staff is what was needed as well as resources in the communities where people who suffer with mental illness live.”

Dawn told Mary Stoker Smith of FOX6 News that Darrell was remorseful for his actions but couldn’t remember what he did. “Every time Darrell goes into a manic where he explodes like that, he does not remember what he did,” said Woods, adding that Brooks has no control over his actions during manic episodes. Woods explained:

“I don’t believe from what I’ve known and seen that Darrell was even in his right mind, that Darrell was even conscious of what he was doing because whenever he goes into that explosiveness, he can’t stop. He can’t control. He doesn’t even know what he’s doing.”

Woods blamed mental instability for Brooks’ antics in court. “I have told that Judge that he’s unstable,” she said. Dawn insisted Darrell didn’t mean to hurt anyone: “He didn’t know what he was doing. He wasn’t in his right mind.”

Darrell’s mom and grandma opine that he belongs in a mental health institution 

Dawn told FOX6 News that she sent Darrell a poem titled ‘Caged Bird’ by Maya Angelou. “Mental illness has clipped your wings, and those prison bars are going to be your cage and no one’s going to hear you sing because it’s going to fall on deaf ears,” Woods said. 

Woods said she wanted Darrell sent to a hospital where he would get mental health treatment. She stated that Darrell deserved prison time but didn’t think the verdict was fair. “He did not deliberately kill those people,” Dawn said. She continued:

“Right now, I just want to curl up and die. That’s how I feel right now. I just want to go somewhere, just curl up and die, but I can’t. As long as my child is alive, I have to stay alive.”

Brooks’ grandmother, Mary Darlene Edwards, apologized to the victims’ families via a statement shared in court. She urged them to forgive Darrell: “Unforgiveness is a horrible disease, just like mental illness.’

Edwards said she hoped Brooks would receive treatment for his illness. “It is my prayer that he be treated for his illness and managed in a facility that addresses mental health concerns,” stated Edwards. The 80-year-old minister of the church said the tragedy inspired her to become a certified mental health coach. 

Dawn and Edwards expressed hope that something good would come out of the calamity – that Brooks’ case would inspire leaders to address mental health issues. Edward said:

“Darrell’s behavior, including his voice, should get the attention of the powers that be, both near and far, to address mental health issues in ways that will make a critical difference. Truly, we must start with the younger generations.”

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