Last Updated on February 17, 2022
A Wisconsin judge denied requests by prosecutors and defenders to submit certain evidence for the jury trial of Kyle Rittenhouse, including an attempt from the prosecution to link Rittenhouse to the Proud Boys. At a pretrial hearing on Friday, Kenosha County Circuit Judge Bruce Schroeder told prosecutors they could not use “other acts” evidence to argue Rittenhouse was essentially acting as a teenage vigilante. Prosecutors had hoped to demonstrate a link between Rittenhouse and the Proud Boys.
It was among several requests that Schroeder was considering Friday. Prosecutors submitted three instances of video and photographic evidence of “other acts” that allegedly show Rittenhouse’s history of violence and desire to commit murder. They falsely characterized the Proud Boys as a “white nationalist” group and wanted to go with a line of attack that would imply a racial element in the shooting.
Rittenhouse attorney Cory Chirafisi argued that there’s no evidence Rittenhouse was affiliated with the Proud Boys the night of the shootings and also denied the racial element. “There is nothing in this evidence that would support that the shootings were race-based,” Chirafisi said. “We are hoping to try this case on the facts.”
“Most everyone there was there because of their beliefs, one way or the other, in regards to the shooting of Jacob Blake,” said District Attorney Thomas Binger. “Chaos tourists like the defendant were drawn like a moth to the flame to our community. He was drawn to this incident because of his beliefs, which align with the Proud Boys. They take pride in using violence to achieve their means.”
Prosecutors cited a lunch meeting Rittenhouse had with Proud Boys members earlier this year. Rittenhouse attorneys argued that the teenager was unaware of who the men were and believed he was simply mingling with supporters. “I certainly would keep the door open if you can show that there is any connection between the defendant on the day in question and this organization,” Judge Schroeder said. “But as I said before, if this this this organization embraces the defendant after the fact because he’s lionized because of his behavior, that is not something that the jury can make anything out of that would be lawful.”
Rittenhouse, who was 17 at the time, allegedly shot and killed Joseph Rosenbaum, 36, and Anthony Huber, 26 on August 25, 2020 after the men charged him and attempted to take his rifle. Rittenhouse also shot Gaige Grosskreutz, who survived. At the time, Kenosha was racked by violent protests that left dozens of buildings burned down after the police shooting of Jacob Blake, a sex offender who was shot while attempting to kidnap a child. Blake was also armed with a weapon at the time of the shooting while officers were cleared of any wrongdoing earlier this year.
Rittenhouse was attacked by rioters after being separated from his group that was defending a local business. Video shows convicted pedophile Joseph Rosenbaum singling out a guard dressed similarly to Rittenhouse, but not actually Rittenhouse, outside a gas station and screaming, “Shoot me, n**ga!”
Rosenbaum is later seen starting more fires, while Rittenhouse is seen running past the camera with a fire extinguisher. Moments later, a shot rings out, fired by rioter Alexander Blaine, 44, as Rosenbaum chases Rittenhouse. Rosenbaum was later shot after attempting to chase Rittenhouse down. It has long been established that Rittenhouse did not fire the first shot, something that was reported on by the New York Times.
Later on, while attempting to flee, Rittenhouse is struck in the head from behind, trips, and falls to the ground. One protester then jumps on Rittenhouse, and another strikes him in the head with a large skateboard and tries to grab his rifle. Rittenhouse shoots the skateboard attacker, 26-year-old convicted domestic abuser Anthony Huber, once in the chest, killing him. Gaige Grosskreutz then approaches Rittenhouse and pretends to surrender before aiming a handgun at the teenager. Grosskreutz later reportedly told a friend in the hospital that his only regret was “not killing the kid.”
Attorneys for Kyle Rittenhouse argue that he acted in self defense. The murder trial is set to begin on November 1.