CBS 58 Exclusive: Sparks family reflects after trial and parade
WAUKESHA, Wis. (CBS 58) -- The trial is over.
The verdict is read.
The sentence handed down -- and the first Waukesha Christmas parade since the attack is now in the rear-view mirror.
But the healing and reflection continues.
The Sparks family -- Sheri, Aaron and Tucker -- sitting down with CBS 58's Jessob Reisbeck to do just that -- reflect and heal.
"You know, this is the second Christmas that he's not with us. It's settling in that he's really not coming back," said Sheri Sparks, Jackson's mother.
Eight-year-old Jackson Sparks lost his life in the Waukesha Christmas parade in Nov. 2021.
"You feel like a lot of people move on and you're still left with the healing that you're doing, and however long that will take," said Aaron Sparks, Jackson's father.
The damage from losing a child will never fully heal. But when the man that did it is locked up for life, it helps.
"We're looking for a piece of closure, peace, you know I think we got closure and peace from the end result," said Aaron Sparks.
"Guilty," said Judge Jennifer Dorow.
"When I heard the first guilty I knew he wasn't going to see the light of day again, and that was a huge weight lifted off our shoulders," said Aaron Sparks.
"One life sentence...one life sentence," said Judge Jennifer Dorow.
"But then obviously she kept listing them, and it was very emotional when she listed Jackson's charge off," said Aaron Sparks.
"And one life sentence for Jackson Sparks," said Judge Jennifer Dorow.
It was a bizarre and frustrating three-week trial. The convicted killer represented himself, lashed out, was removed from the court room and rambled on for hours.
"You look for remorse, apology, empathy, I don't know if he's capable of that," said Aaron Sparks. "And I don't want to try to figure him out, I feel like we're done with that chapter, and we get to move on, and he gets to.."
Go to prison forever -- sentenced to six life sentences and over 1,000 years of prison time and supervision.
"It was the maximum penalty under Wisconsin law. We're happy with that, and it was well deserved," said Aaron Sparks.
Every single name, of every single victim killed and injured was read by the judge -- along with the amount of time the attacker will serve for each one.
"I think it gave a lot of people peace. People want to hear that, people want that vindication, I know we did," said Aaron Sparks.
"That alone is healing," said Sheri Sparks.
More than 40 victims read impact statements -- their chance to personally address the attacker.
None more powerful that Sheri's -- the mother of two young boys run over in the parade. One severely injured, the other never coming back.
"I wanted him to see what he did," said Sheri Sparks. "We showed a picture of Tucker in the road and we showed a picture of Jackson in the ICU. I wanted him to see the damage that he did. It was very liberating."
The damage he did will never fully go away. But this family is healing -- and they are strong.
"If anything we get out of it is hug your kids, hug your loved ones, you never know," said Aaron Sparks.
"Don't take anything for granted, life, you never know," said Sheri Sparks. "You truly see life through a different set of eyes after going through some of this. You appreciate every little thing."
"Yeah," said Aaron Sparks.
And how's this for amazing -- after the sentencing, on the last night, the judge of the trial -- Judge Jennifer Dorow, asked for a police escort home, for safety.
Guess who protected her and followed her home?
Jackson -- the Waukesha K9 deputy named after Jackson Sparks, and his handler.
It wasn't planned at all, it just happened.