A Wisconsin judge rejected efforts by prosecutors to tar the image of Kyle Rittenhouse, who is charged in the shooting deaths of two men during last summer’s Kenosha riots. He is also charged with wounding a third man.
On Friday, Kenosha County Circuit Judge Bruce Schroeder rejected two of three efforts by Assistant District Attorney Thomas Binger to use incidents linked to what he called a “strong theory of case — that he’s essentially a teen vigilante involving himself in things that don’t concern him,” according to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.
Schroeder poured cold water on the third effort by the prosecution to show an unrelated video to the jury, but did not make a final ruling.
Binger said Rittenhouse, now 18, was a “chaos tourist” who was “drawn like a moth to the flame” to riots, according to the Journal-Times of Racine, Wisconsin.
Binger said Rittenhouse, after being freed from jail long after the riots, met leaders of the Proud Boys when he went to a tavern. Photos of the meeting were posted on social media. Binger also claimed Rittenhouse met national Proud Boys leaders in Miami.
“The defendant, I believe, was drawn to this incident because of his beliefs, which I believe are consistent with those of the Proud Boys,” Binger said, according to the Journal Times.
Defense attorney Corey Chirafisi countered that there is not a shred of evidence that Rittenhouse was ever connected to the Proud Boys.
“This is not a political trial, this is not going to be a political trial,” Schroeder said, according to the Journal Times, noting that the connection was not relevant and could not be used unless evidence materializes that Rittenhouse met with the group on the night of the shooting.
Schroeder also rejected a prosecution request to use a video from June 2020 that showed Rittenhouse hitting a girl fighting with his sister.
An August 2020 video the prosecution wanted to introduce was not rejected, although Schroeder said he was leaning against allowing it.
The video shows what appear to be thieves running from a CVS store and stashing items in a trunk.
A speaker the prosecution says was Rittenhouse then says, “Bro, I wish I had my (expletive) AR, I’d start shooting rounds at them.”
“That video doesn’t show anything, he didn’t have a gun, he was sitting in a vehicle having a conversation with someone, he never made contact with those people. If you watch the video they don’t even know he’s there,” Chirafisi said, according to the Journal Times. “He doesn’t do anything. He doesn’t open his window. He doesn’t honk his horn. He doesn’t insert himself (into the situation). He could have, but he didn’t.”
“This is giving the jury an honest insight into the defendant’s state of mind. This is information the jury should have in making those decisions, they drive to hear the truth of what the defendant is thinking,” he said, according to the Journal Times.
Schroeder indicated he is against allowing the video to be used, but did not make a final ruling, the newspaper reported.
The trial is scheduled to begin Nov. 1.
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