We’ll get to the threats in a moment but first let’s set the scene. Darrell Brooks was convicted on all 76 counts last month. Today and tomorrow he’s being sentenced but before the judge decides on his sentence there are something like 60 people who are going to make victim impact statements to the court. Some of these people had testified in the trial but now they’re being given a chance to talk about the impact on them and their families.

I watched the opening of the hearing today and Brooks seemed to be on his best behavior. He was respectful to the judge and didn’t interrupt or attempt to make a mockery of the proceedings. But that changed almost instantly when the victims began speaking. First up was Lori Lockette who was walking in the parade with her Catholic church group. “I clearly remember the impact. The searing pain of that blow is as clear to me today as it was a year ago,” she said. Brooks’ reaction was to roll his eyes.

As she finished her brief statement, he shook his head as if this had nothing to do with him.

The next statement came from Bill Mitchell who was also walking with a Catholic church group. He was hit and flew over the hood of the car. The impact left him with 8 broken ribs and a fractured hand. Mitchell pointed out that from everything he’d seen, Brooks showed zero remorse.

Jeff Rogers spoke about the impact on his children. He was walking with three of his four kids in the parade and two of them were hit. He pointed out that his family had to relive all of this because Brooks couldn’t man up and take responsibility for his actions. Here again Brooks rolled his eyes back as far as they would go.

He said he still has flashbacks almost daily of his daughter’s jacket slipping through his hands and knows if he hadn’t grabbed it the second time he tried his daughter Maya would have been killed. He said the moment after the car passed when he couldn’t immediately find two of his kids was “pure and utter terror” that is still with him.

Next, Jessica Gonzalez got up to describe her own moments of panic after the car passed. She didn’t know where her son was and she says there were children yelling for their mothers all around her. Fortunately her son had been missed. But she was clearly traumatized by what she saw that day. She describes running with her son from the scene and covering his eyes so he wouldn’t have to see all the injured and dead people in the street.

The family of Jordan Sparks testified. His mother’s statement was heartbreaking. She talked about the last hug she ever got from him. Members of the prosecution team were in tears. Judge Dorrow was in tears. Even Darrell Brooks seemed to tone it down for once. Both of her sons were in the ICU and she described having to tell her 12-year-old that his little brother, Jordan Sparks, wasn’t going to make it. “His injuries were too extensive for his little body to come back from,” she said.

There was a recess and then a child victim, not shown on camera, was brought in to discuss her injuries.

A written statement by another child victim was read to the court by an adult. At that point the proceedings were interrupted and the courtroom was cleared.

Apparently someone had called in anonymous threats.

After about 75 minutes Judge Dorow returned and explained that a threat had cleared the courtroom but that the building was secure and everything could resume. It seems this was just some anonymous crank.

Finally, another mother of an injured child got up to speak about that day. She was shaking as she said, “This so-called sorry excuse for a man ran a 3,000 pound SUV into her tiny little body.” She added, “As a parent we are supposed to be able to protect our children and that day many of us were reminded of the ugly in this world, that no matter what we do there will always be monsters like Darrell Brooks that are lurking around corners just waiting for a chance to play those parts in our nightmares.”

There will be more testimony from victims today and tomorrow Judge Dorow will sentence Brooks. If anything else happens today I’ll add it below.

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