After a very emotional day in court, the trial of alleged killer Kyle Rittenhouse continued Thursday morning.
Who Is Kyle Rittenhouse and What Happened in the Kenosha Shooting
Kyle Rittenhouse, a 17-year-old from Antioch, Illinois, shot and murdered two individuals and wounded another man in the arm during confrontations at two places on August 25, 2020, amid rioting in Kenosha, Wisconsin, following the police shooting of Jacob Blake.
Rittenhouse was armed with a semi-automatic AR-15 style rifle, while the person he wounded was armed with a handgun. Rittenhouse had stated that he was on the scene to protect a car dealership from vandalism as well as to provide medical assistance. Rittenhouse was an active shooter, according to the lone survivor, a skilled paramedic.
Rittenhouse was chased by a group at the original location, including Kenosha resident Joseph Rosenbaum. A third participant fired a gunshot into the air, and an unarmed Rosenbaum ran at Rittenhouse, attempting to steal his rifle, according to a witness.
Rittenhouse shot Rosenbaum four times, striking him in the groin, hand and thigh, head, and back. Rosenbaum died soon after, suffering from a shattered pelvis, a ruptured liver, and a perforated right lung. After Rittenhouse tripped while departing the second site, he fired twice at an unnamed individual who kicked him.
While Rittenhouse was still on the ground, protesters approached him, and Silver Lake resident Anthony Huber attacked him with a skateboard while struggling for control of his gun. Rittenhouse then fired a single shot at Huber, killing him in the chest.
Gaige Grosskreutz, a West Allis resident and volunteer medic, approached Rittenhouse with a revolver, and Rittenhouse shot him once, severing his right biceps muscle.
Charges on Rittenhouse and Defence’s Claim
Rittenhouse was arrested and charged with multiple counts of homicide and unlawful possession of a firearm, and a 19-year old man was arrested and charged with unlawfully supplying Rittenhouse’s rifle.
Rittenhouse’s attorneys say he acted in self-defense upon hearing firearm discharge and in response to the physical confrontations from protesters. Public sentiment and media coverage of the shootings were polarized. The trial for Rittenhouse began on November 1, 2021, in Kenosha.
Chaos in Court
Mr. Rittenhouse sobbed during his evidence yesterday, insisting that he acted in self-defense and “didn’t do anything wrong.” His lawyers moved for a mistrial, citing “prosecutorial misconduct,” in another dramatic scene.
Prosecutors were accused by the defense of violating Mr. Rittenhouse’s rights by emphasizing his silence in the aftermath of the shootings on August 25, 2020, and by referring to a video that had previously been ruled inadmissible. Mr. Rittenhouse will not be tried again for the same offenses if the motion is granted.
If Mr. Rittenhouse is found guilty, he might spend the rest of his life in prison.
The Judge and His Attitude Towards the Case
Before a jury was chosen in the trial of Kyle Rittenhouse, the judge made news by reinforcing his long-standing rule prohibiting prosecutors from referring to people as “victims” in front of juries in his courtroom.
At the same time, at a pretrial hearing last month, Kenosha County Circuit Court Judge Bruce Schroeder said the men who were shot could be described as “looters” or “rioters” if the defense can show they engaged in such behavior during protests after a police officer shot Jacob Blake in August 2020, paralyzing him.
In legal circles, his decision prompted immediate controversy and, in some cases, indignation. The longest-serving current judge in Wisconsin’s trial courts was thrown into the limelight once more.
“His word is final, and he isn’t afraid to make tough decisions,” said Dan Adams, a former prosecutor and criminal defense attorney in Wisconsin. Schroeder urged the jurors to leave the room twice during cross-examination before punishing prosecutor Thomas Binger for his course of questions.
Mark Richards, the defense counsel, has warned to request a mistrial with prejudice. The court debated last month whether defense attorneys may refer to Huber, Rosenbaum, and Grosskreutz as arsonists, rioters, or looters because of their actions during the violent protests.
Because of his prohibition on the use of the phrase “victims,” Binger claimed the court had applied a “double standard.”
The Word “Victim” and Why Schroeder Does Not Allow It
Schroeder says that the word “victim” is a very loaded word and “alleged victim” is a cousin to it. To which the lawyer, Binger, replied that the words arsonist, looters, and rioters are equally loaded if not more than the victim.
Binger contended that any actions taken by Rosenbaum, Huber, or Grosskreutz that could lead jurors to assume they were arsonists, rioters, or looters were not witnessed by Rittenhouse and hence should not be considered in his defense.
Rittenhouse’s acts, the defense attorney claimed, should be assessed against the night’s general “lawlessness.” Areva Martin, a CNN legal commentator, called Schroeder’s ruling incomprehensible.
She pointed out that allowing the labels “rioters” and “looters” to be used implied that the victims deserved what they got. They deserved to be shot and even deserved to die.
The Rittenhouse trial is still underway as the people of Kenosha wait to see what happens to the young boy.