The judge presiding over Kyle Rittenhouse’s homicide trial said he will consider a defence motion for a mistrial after the defendant took the stand on Wednesday.
Mr Rittenhouse’s attorneys are seeking a mistrial with prejudice due to what they called “prosecutorial misconduct”. The defence accused prosecutors of violating Mr Rittenhouse’s rights by mentioning his silence in the wake of the 25 August 2020 shootings and by referencing a video that was previously deemed inadmissible.
If the motion is granted, Mr Rittenhouse cannot be tried again for the same crimes.
The 18-year-old is facing five charges including homicide and minor in possession of a weapon for shooting dead Joseph Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber and injuring Gauge Grosskreutz during protests in Kenosha, Wisconsin. He could be sentenced to a maximum of life in prison if convicted.
Earlier in Wednesday’s hearing, Mr Rittenhouse walked through the night of the shootings and broke down in tears as he described fearing for his life when confronted by protesters. “I didn’t do anything wrong. I defended myself,” he said.
Under cross-examination, Mr Rittenhouse acknowledged that it was illegal for him to carry AR-15 rifle he used in the shootings and said he had a friend purchase it for him because: “I thought it looked cool.”
Prosecutor Thomas Binger sought to highlight Mr Rittenhouse’s lack of experience with AR-15s but questioning what he knows about the “full metal jacket” rounds used in the shooting.
Tensions boiled over just before lunch when Judge Bruce Schroeder admonished the prosecution for referencing a video that had been excluded from evidence at a pretrial hearing.
Later in the day, the prosecution took another hit when the defence sought to exclude another video on the grounds that it was filmed on an iPad with the “pinch to zoom” feature. Judge Schroeder sided with the defence and said the prosecution should bring in an expert to prove that the footage is reliable.
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Judge pauses testimony as Rittenhouse sobs uncontrollably
Mr Rittenhouse was on the stand for about 20 minutes before he began to sob uncontrollably while he described how Joseph Rosenbaum “cornered” him in a parking lot moments before he fatally shot him.
The Illinois teenager testified that before chasing after him, Mr Rosenbuam was walking around with a “steel chain and he had a blue mask around his face” and threatened to kill him.
The judge was forced to call a recess to give Mr Rittenhouse time to compose himself.
Read Alex Woodward’s report here.
Megan Sheets10 November 2021 16:43
Rittenhouse recalls victim screaming: ‘I’m going to f**king kill you’
Prior to the judge calling a recess, Mr Rittenhouse tearfully described how Mr Rosenbaum allegedly threatened to kill him.
“He was just mad about something,” the defendant said. “He screamed, ‘If I catch any of you f****** alone I’m going to f****** kill you”.
Mr Rittenhouse also testified that Mr Rosenbaum threatened to “cut your f****** heart out” and used a racial slur.
Later, as he described running towards a car dealership he says he was there to defend from protesters, Mr Rosenbaum “came out from behind the car and ambushed me”.
Megan Sheets10 November 2021 16:55
Rittenhouse declares ‘I didn’t do anything wrong’ after brief court recess
After a brief recess, Mr Rittenhouse returned to the witness stand and told the court: “I didn’t do anything wrong. I defended myself.”
He explained that after shooting Mr Rosenbaum he did not stop to offer aid because he felt threatened by others in the crowd.
He said he was on his way to speak to police when other protesters came to confront him.
The defence has sought to paint Mr Rittenhouse as having been overwhelmed by the chaos that erupted after he opened fire.
Megan Sheets10 November 2021 17:02
Rittenhouse recalls shooting Anthony Huber and Gaige Grosskreutz
Mr Rittenhouse testified that in the moments after he shot Mr Rosenbaum he heard shouts of “get him” and “cranium him” from a crowd pursuing him.
He said he was running away to find safety in police custody when a man knocked him to the ground and kicked him.
Mr Rittenhouse said he fired his gun once but missed. When he stood up, he said Anthony Huber struck him on the head with a skateboard. He then fired another shot, killing Mr Huber.
Seconds later he saw Gaige Grosskreutz coming toward him with a gun drawn, so he fired his own weapon, wounding Mr Grosskreutz.
Megan Sheets10 November 2021 17:13
Prosecution asks Rittenhouse if he shot with intent to kill
During cross examination, prosecutor Thomas Binger questioned whether Mr Rittenhouse intended to kill everyone he shot on 25 August 2020.
The defendant acknowledged using deadly force but said he was not shooting to kill and “did what I had to do” to protect himself.
When Mr Binger accused Mr Rittenhouse of tailoring his story to match the account already presented by the defence, Judge Bruce Schroeder warned the prosecutor against violating the defendant’s right not to testify.
“You are right up to the borderline, if not over it,” the judge said.
Megan Sheets10 November 2021 17:24
Rittenhouse says he bought AR-15 ‘because it looked cool’
Mr Binger, the prosecutor, questioned Mr Rittenhouse at length about the AR-15 he used in the shootings despite being too young to legally own one.
Mr Rittenhouse confirmed that his friend, Dominick Black, purchased the gun on his behalf because he was a minor.
He said he picked out the weapon because: “I thought it looked cool.”
Mr Rittenhouse pushed back when Mr Binger suggested he was drawn to the weapon because it resembles those used in video games.
“There are guns in video games that resemble all guns,” Mr Rittenhouse said. “It’s just a video game. It’s not real life.”
Megan Sheets10 November 2021 17:40
Judge admonishes prosecution for referencing video outside of evidence
Tensions boiled over in the courtroom when Judge Schroeder lashed out at Mr Binger for appearing to reference a cellphone video that was ruled inadmissible during a pretrial hearing.
The video purportedly showed Mr Rittenhouse saying he wished he had a gun so he could shoot people he believed were shoplifting at a CVS two weeks before the events in Kenosha.
With the jury dismissed, Mr Binger argued that the video could be used to impeach Mr Rittenhouse, and illustrate his state of mind when he killed two men on 25 August.
Judge Schroeder raised his voice to a shout in telling Mr Binger that the prosecution needed to file a motion if it wanted him to reconsider entering the video into evidence.
“Don’t get brazen with me!” the judge yelled. “I said when I made my ruling, I see no similarity between talking about ‘wishing you had your AR gun’, which you don’t have, to fire rounds at shoplifters, and the incidents in these cases.”
Mr Rittenhouse’s defence attorneys, incensed, also said they would call for a mistrial if prosecutors continued that line of questioning.
Megan Sheets10 November 2021 17:45
Prosecution tests Rittenhouse’s knowledge of bullets
Mr Binger probed Mr Rittenhouse on his limited experience with the AR-15 and the ammunition he used in the shootings in an apparent bid to show the jury that he should not have brought it to Kenosha in the first place.
Mr Rittenhouse said the bullets he used – “full metal jacket” rounds – had been purchased by the same friend that got him the gun, and that he knew what kind they were but didn’t know specifics about how they worked. “A bullet is a bullet,” he said.
Judge Schroeder indicated that he was ready for Mr Binger to move on from that line of questioning before sending the jury out for lunch until 2pm EST.
Megan Sheets10 November 2021 18:08
Chicago braces for unrest over Rittenhouse verdict
The Chicago Police Department appears to be gearing up for unrest in the event Rittenhouse is acquitted of homicide charges by cancelling all scheduled days off for all sworn personnel beginning this Friday.
“All RDO [regular day off] personnel will be attired in the prescribed regulation field uniform of the day, including helmet, baton and yellow safety vest,” First Deputy Police Supt Eric Carter wrote in the memo obtained by the Chicago Sun Times.
A CPD spokesman said all full-duty sworn members will have one day off cancelled between November 12 and 15 “to enhance public safety and to address crime patterns” in a statement to Newsweek.
Fraternal Order of Police President John Cataranza condemned the cancellation in a YouTube video, accusing the department of giving insufficient notice.
“There was no notice. They do not get to just keep saying: ‘We need manpower just in case, you know, a verdict doesn’t go positive’ and, all of a sudden, there’s upheaval,” Mr Catanzara said.
Megan Sheets10 November 2021 19:05
Mr Rittenhouse’s attorneys announced plans to file a motion for a mistrial with prejudice when the court returned for lunch.
The defence took issue with prosecutors discussing Rittenhouse’s right to remain silent in front of the jury and referencing video previously deemed inadmissible.
If the motion is granted, Mr Rittenhouse could not be retried for the crimes.
Megan Sheets10 November 2021 19:16