The suspect in the Waukesha, Wisconsin, parade attack pleaded not guilty to dozens of counts, as his trial begins.
The 39-year-old suspect was formally arraigned on Friday, during a brief hearing. He waived a reading of the charges and his defense team entered not guilty pleas on all counts on his behalf. The suspect is charged with 6 counts of first-degree intentional homicide and another 71 counts related to the incident.
The day before, the suspect’s defense counsel filed two motions into the record, including a motion for a change of venue. The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reported that the defense is seeking a change of venue to another county or a jury pool picked from another county. In either case, the defense is also seeking to sequester the jury, citing widespread media coverage of the attack in the days following, as well as the outpouring of support from the community of Waukesha, including dozens of vigils held for the victims, thousands of dollars in donations from community members, and even a visit from First Lady Jill Biden. The request also made note of the fact that Waukesha schools were closed for several days, and more than 500 students received counseling in the following days, and that the slogan “Waukesha Strong” had become ubiquitous in the community, including ten thousand blue lightbulbs distributed throughout the community as a symbol of support.
“While publicity is certainly relevant to determining the issue in the present case,” the attorneys wrote, “additional factors also demonstrate that, in this case and in Waukesha County, the passions and prejudice negatively affecting the Defendant’s constitutional right to a fair trial are so great that a change of venue is necessary to ensure a fair trial. An impartial trial cannot be held in Waukesha County.”
The defense also moved to substitute the trial judge. The Journal-Sentinel reported that the substitution may have been the reason for the short hearing. A hearing before the new trial judge is scheduled for March 11, and no movement is expected until then. Prosecutors told the Journal-Sentinel they had no intent to respond to the motions until the new hearing is held.
The suspect was ordered to stand trial at a preliminary hearing in January, as The Daily Wire reported. The court found that there was “ample evidence” that the suspect, who has a criminal record that goes back more than two decades, “probably committed a felony or felonies within the jurisdiction of the court.” The suspect allegedly sped through a roadblock and rammed into a Christmas parade in Waukesha in November, killing 6 people, including an 8-year-old boy. A police officer present at the scene told the court Friday that the suspect drove into the parade, which included several hundred performers and thousands of spectators, driving through large groups of people at high speed. At the time, the suspect had just been released from jail on $1000 bail set by the Milwaukee County District Attorney.
The defendant will not be named in compliance with long-standing Daily Wire policy not to publish the names or photographs of those who commit mass casualty events.
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