The judge in Kyle Rittenhouse’s case will allow the defense to refer to the men he shot as ‘rioters,’ ‘looters’ or ‘arsonists’ after banning the term ‘victim’ at trial.
Kenosha County Circuit Judge Bruce Schroeder ruled that lawyers for the now-18-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse will be free to the call the men the teen shot ‘rioters,’ ‘looters,’ or ‘arsonists’ at trial as long as they provide evidence, Insider reported.
Rittenhouse is charged with homicide and attempted homicide for fatally shooting Joseph Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber, as well as wounding Gaige Grosskreutz, at a Black Lives Matter protest on August 25, 2020.
Kyle Rittenhouse, 18, (pictured) faces homicide and attempted homicide charges for fatally shooting Joseph Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber & wounding Gaige Grosskreutz
Kenosha County Circuit Judge Bruce Schroeder (pictured) ruled that Kyle Rittenhouse’s lawyers will be free to use the call the men the teen shot ‘rioters,’ ‘looters,’ or ‘arsonists’ at trial
The trial of Kyle Rittenhouse, accused of shooting three people during a protest against police brutality in Wisconsin last year, is set to begin November 1
Schroeder ruled against prosecutors’ motion to prohibit Rittenhouse’s attorneys from using ‘prerogative terms’ to refer to Rosenbaum, Huber and Grosskreutz or mention their criminal history.
Assistant District Attorney Thomas Binger argued that Rittenhouse’s attorneys should not be able to use the terms during trial since prosecutors will not be able to refer to the three men as ‘victims.’
But Schroeder said the two situations were not comparable and pointed out it is common for judges to ban the word ‘victim’ during trials because it could prejudice a jury against a defendant, Insider reported.
Schroeder said since the three men are not on trial, Rittenhouse’s attorneys are free to describe them as ‘rioters,’ ‘looters’ or ‘arsonists’ as long as they provide evidence that the men were rioting, looting, or committing arson, Insider reported.
‘He can demonize him if he wants, if he thinks he’ll score points with the jury,’ Schroeder told prosecutors, adding that in turn prosecutors themselves would be free to use terms like ‘cold-blooded killer’ to describe Rittenhouse, as long as they back it up with evidence.
Rittenhouse’s trial is set to begin November 1.
Rittenhouse was 17 when he killed Rosenbaum and Huber at riots sparked by the police shooting of black man Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin during August 2020.
On August 25, 2020 Rittenhouse fatally shot Joseph Rosenbaum (left) and Anthony Huber (right)
Gaig Grosskruetz (pictured) was shot and wounded by Kyle Rittenhouse in August 2020
Rittenhouse (picrtured) was 17 when he killed Rosenbaum and Huber at riots sparked by the police shooting of black man Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin during August 2020
Rittenhouse’s attorneys have argued that he fired in self-defense after Rosenbaum, Huber, and Grosskreutz attacked him.
The teen’s lawyers also want the court to allow them to call, John R. Black, a self-defense expert, as a witness to back up their assertions.
Black, a former Washington County, Oregon, sheriff’s deputy, has testified in numerous state and federal cases, offering his expertise in police use of force, decision-making, crowd control, and other procedures and practices related to law enforcement.
Prosecutors charged Rittenhouse with multiple counts, including homicide and being a minor in possession of a firearm.
He traveled from Antioch, Illinois, on the night of the fatal shootings to help ‘protect’ the streets of Kenosha from violent protest triggered by Blake’s shooting.
The defense team for Rittenhouse previously tried, unsuccessfully, to have his previous weapons charge dismissed from his indictment.
Explaining their application to have the weapons charge dismissed, Chirafisi, one of Rittenhouse’s attorneys, argued that the statute only prohibits minors from possessing short-barreled rifles.
Rittenhouse used an AR-style semiautomatic rifle with a 16-inch barrel the night of the shootings, according to Chirafisi.
The only other prohibitions on minors possessing firearms lie in the state’s hunting statutes, which state that children under 12 can’t hunt with guns.
That doesn’t apply to Rittenhouse because he was 17 on the night of the shootings, Chirafisi said.
Binger countered that the Legislature clearly intended to bar anyone under 18 from ‘running around with a dangerous weapon’ and that the hunting statutes don’t apply because Rittenhouse wasn’t hunting on the night of the protest.
Schroeder sided with Binger, but he said he might revisit the question later because the statutes aren’t clear.
Prosecutors also were looking for permission to introduce a video showing Rittenhouse saying he’d like to shoot some men he thought were shoplifting from a pharmacy 15 days before the protest.
Schroeder said last month that he was leaning toward excluding it.
Schroeder last month denied both sides’ request to send questionnaires to potential jurors to probe biases.
The judge wrote in a letter to the attorneys that he’s afraid people won’t fill them out and recipients would discuss the case with family members, friends and co-workers.
‘That may trigger even more conversations about the case, with consequent opinion formation,’ Schroeder said.
Kenosha was in the throes of several nights of chaotic protests in August 2020 after a white police officer shot Blake, who is black, during a domestic disturbance, leaving Blake paralyzed from the waist down.
The officer, Rusten Sheskey, was not charged. Sheskey shot Blake seven times while Blake was about to get into an SUV.
Kenosha’s police chief, Daniel Miskinis, said Sheskey was found to have been acting within policy and will not be disciplined.
The shooting happened three months after George Floyd was murdered while being restrained by police officers in Minneapolis.
Earlier this year, Blake filed a civil lawsuit accusing the officer of excessive force.
Rittenhouse, now 18, traveled to the city in response to social media posts asking for help defending city businesses.
Many conservatives flocked to support Rittenhouse, calling him a patriot for seeking to stop violent protests, making him a symbol for gun rights and raising $2million for his bail.
Others, including some liberals and activists, portrayed him as a domestic terrorist and said he made a volatile situation worse by bringing a rifle to the streets of Kenosha.