U.S.A. –-(AmmoLand.com)- On August 25, 2020, Kyle Rittenhouse was at the scene of the Kenosha riots. In the next few hours, he scrubbed graffiti, offered first aid, was threatened, was attacked, and shot three people in claimed self-defense. The situation has been covered in depth at AmmoLand. A good summation of the actions that night are here. Kyle was charged by local prosecutors in spite of voluminous video evidence of his self-defense claims. Eventually, supporters raised two million dollars for bond in Wisconsin.
On Friday, September 17, 2021, there was an evidentiary hearing in Kenosha, about what will be allowed as evidence in the trial of Kyle Rittenhouse. Jury selection is scheduled to start on November 1, 2021. The hearing may be seen on YouTube. The video is two hours and 36 minutes long.
The hearing was held by the Honorable Judge Bruce E. Schroeder. The view seen is from the bench. Seated at the table on the left of the screen are the prosecutors. DA Thomas Binger is in a blue suit, wearing glasses. On the right of the screen is the defense table. Defense attorney Mark Richards is on the aisle side of the table in the black or very dark blue suit; defense attorney Corey Chiriafsi is in the grey suit in the center of the table; defendant Kyle Rittenhouse is on the far side from Richards in a blue suit.
Judge Schroeder is considering several motions for evidence to be admissible at trial by prosecutors and defense. Both sides have presented their arguments to the Judge, in writing, before this hearing.
In the video, both sides give a preview of what their case will look like at trial. Several facts are mentioned which this correspondent has not seen in previous coverage.
DA Binger attempts to show Kyle Rittenhouse as a “teenage vigilante” with a pre-disposition to shoot people. Binger claims Rittenhouse is from outside the community and came looking for trouble. Binger claims Rittenhouse was “armed with an illegal weapon.”
Defense attorney Mark Richards counters with statements Kyle had a job in Kenosha as a lifeguard, and Kyle’s father lives in Kenosha. Richards says he has not found any evidence, after an intense search, that Rittenhouse had any interest in or knowledge of militias or any racist organizations. Richards:
“All three of these people shot were chasing Kyle Rittenhouse. All of them. That is not debatable.”
The prosecution wants to include a fight between Kyle’s sister and another girl, which happened 2 months before the Kenosha riots, where Kyle stepped in on the side of his sister. The defense says:
“The probative value of this is substantially outweighed by its prejudicial value.”
“No connection to these two events at all.”
Judge Schroeder denies the prosecution the use of the event in court.
The next motion is about evidence of an event after Kyle is released on bond. Rittenhouse goes to a bar to celebrate. At the bar are members of the Proud Boys in Wisconsin. This is four months after the events of August 25. The prosecution attempts to claim this association has some bearing on the state of mind of Kyle Rittenhouse, four months earlier. The prosecution claims the Proud Boys is a far-right, racist, violent organization, based on a newspaper article. Judge Schroeder makes extensive comments about the situation. Here are some:
“I don’t think it is for the court, except in most appropriate circumstances, to be making determinations, and certainly not on the basis of an article in a newspaper in Seattle, about what an organization is.”
“It is an unfortunate fact that this case has become a surrogate for a lot of emotional reaction that has nothing to do or little to do or nothing to do with the issues of the case, but if then the accused is ensconced, which can send him to prison for life, and he encounters some people who embrace him and start to, can we take pictures with you and somehow make him feel better about himself; and he reacts by smiling with them and taking some pictures; for me to let that in as evidence, of a motive that existed, four months earlier? Can’t see it. Absolutely not. I would expect to be reversed if I did that.”
“I am not interested in these accusations about group responsibility, unless it is directly connected that the defendant is active in the criminal enterprises of the organization.”
“Pope Benedict was a member of the NAZI youth, because he had to be. This type of evidence is very dangerous. You make some points that might be legitimate. I certainly will keep the door open, if you can show that there was any connection between the defendant on the day in question and this organization.”
Judge Schroeder’s use of “on the day in question” refers to the events of August 25, 2020.
The defense wishes to enter evidence the first man shot by Kyle, Joseph Rosenbaum, was a convicted felon. Mark Richards claims Rosenbaum had a motive to steal the rifle Kyle Rittenhouse was carrying because he could not obtain one legally. The defense mentions Rosenbaum was heard saying (in evidence revealed by discovery from the prosecution) “I just got out of jail, and I am not afraid to go back.”
Judge Schroeder found this of interest. DA Binger denied the statement is decipherable.
Judge Schroeder refused to allow the evidence of Rosenbaum being a convicted felon to be entered at the trial.
The prosecution did not endear itself to Judge Schroeder over the issue of a list of witnesses, which the defense is entitled to, as a matter of law.
The prosecution provided a potential witness list of 175 witnesses to the defense. The defense complained it was too many witnesses, citing precedent. The Judge agreed. The prosecution narrowed the list to 27 possible witnesses. The prosecution did not provide the addresses of the witnesses. The prosecution does not want to make a public filing in court, to avoid witness intimidation.
Judge Schroeder asks defense attorney Mark Richards if he was satisfied. Richards says he could deal with 27 witnesses, but he says, the prosecution had not provided the addresses. Then defense attorney Richards states:
I was told by Mr. Binger, they are in discovery, find them.
Judge Schroeder to DA Binger: Is that true?
I emailed Mr. Richards yesterday. I gave him a narrowed down list, I said the addresses that we would be providing to him would require us to go through the same 400 plus pages of police report…
Judge Schroeder: (interrupting) What does the statute say?
The statute does requires us to provide addresses in a written filing with the court.
Judge: (Interrupting) Well, I can expect that will be done by Monday at five.
DA Binger: Would you like us to file with the court?
I understand your desire to keep this from being filed. If the defense objects, we can discuss about it. No, you can do what you did, but you need to send to him the addresses.
By five o’clock, Monday.
The prosecution wants the defense to provide lists of people who had donated to Rittenhouse’s defense fund. Judge Schroeder says he does not have the authority to order a third party to provide a list to the defense to give to the prosecution. The motion was denied.
There was some discussion of expert witnesses, which was deferred to later.
The prosecution wished to have admitted, as evidence, a video of Kyle Rittenhouse, two weeks before the riots in Kenosha, commenting on watching people loot a CVS in Chicago. Defense Attorney Corey Chirafisi reiterates Rittenhouse took no action, it was merely words, and should not be admitted.
At about 1:47 on the hearing video, DA Binger makes a startling revelation. He says Rittenhouse does take an action at the CVS looting. Rittenhouse calls 911. From DA Binger:
“There is an actual action he takes at the CVS incident, and that is, he does call 911, using his personal cell phone.”
At about 1:50 in the hearing video, Judge Schroeder, after the prosecution finishes, says: “I think I heard now, for the first time, that he called 911.”
That neither the Judge or the defense team knew this before is amazing. All prosecution evidence should have been made available to the defense team long ago.
Judge Schroeder says, in differentiating the two incidents, about Kenosha, “you could call 911 all you wanted, there was no law and order. ”
DA Binger continues his attempts to justify including the CVS incident as evidence at the trial. Then DA Binger makes revealing comments about the rifle Rittenhouse was carrying.
At about 1:59, Binger talks about the rifle. To this correspondent, Binger seems to be making the case for the defense. It is difficult to see this as a prosecution argument.
“He was running around with a assault rifle type weapon, a very threatening, aggressive weapon. One that deters people, it is designed to deter people. It is designed to threaten others; to let them know, don’t mess with me, look what I’ve got. Other people that night are carrying around semi-automatic pistols, Glocks, which you can conceal and hide. Other people can’t see it. It is not designed to tell people to go away. It is not designed to tell people to leave me alone. You carry around an assault rifle like this you are sending that message to other people. That is what the defendant was doing.”
The defense picks up the revelation that Kyle called 911 at the CVS incident.
At about 2:02 Defense attorney Chirafisi:
“I was unaware that Mr. Rittenhouse had actually called the authorities on the August 10th date.”
Binger continues to try to convince Judge Schroeder the CVS video should be included as evidence.
At about 2:06 in the video, DA Binger states the FBI made an infrared video from an orbiting plane that shows Rittenhouse running after Mr. Rosenbaum. Binger says the defense was made aware of the video on 3 May, but he does not believe defense attorney Richards has seen it.
Binger claims there was a confrontation between Rittenhouse and Rosenbaum, He claims Rittenhouse was chasing Rosenbaum. The defense has not seen this FBI infrared video.
Judge Schroeder says the events are too dissimilar for the CVS incident to be included as evidence, but he will not make a final decision at this time, pending seeing the video evidence, which he has not viewed.
The Prosecution then makes a claim about a defense motion to dismiss the charge of illegal possession of a firearm by a minor. The defense is probably calling the attention of the judge to the structure of Wisconsin statute 948.60, with regard to possession of rifles and shotguns by minors. To this correspondent, DA Binger appears to misstate the statutory law.
DA Binger appears to ignore Wisconsin statute 948.60 (3)(c), which excludes most firearms from the law.
Judge Schroeder agrees to send the brief by the prosecution, about the firearms possession issue from the Dominick Black case, to the Rittenhouse defense team, which has not seen it before.
Judge Schroeder says he will take the issue of legal possession of the firearm under advisement. He has not considered it in either the Rittenhouse or Black cases, as of September 17th, 2021.
Judge Schroeder has required DA Binger to read or refer to statutes at least twice at other points in this case.
Many have wondered if Dominick Black would be charged with the straw purchase of the rifle, under federal law.
Earlier, in this hearing, DA Binger noted Kyle Rittenhouse’s access to the rifle was limited. It was stored in Wisconsin. Rittenhouse had only shot the rifle one time prior to August 25, 2020.
This makes federal prosecution of Dominick Black for a straw purchase of the rifle unlikely, as the rifle was never permanently transferred to Kyle Rittenhouse. It is permissible to loan a rifle for a limited time and purpose, without transferring it through a federally licensed dealer.
Both the prosecution and defense agreed they would be ready for a November 1 start of the trial.
There is an issue with the use of questionnaires for jury selection.
The judge states he did not like to use questionnaires during jury selection. Judge Schroeder said no questions will be allowed about gun ownership, gun possession, or membership in a particular organization.
He said: “This is not a political trial, it is not going to be a political trial.”
Both the defense and prosecutors want to use questionnaires for jury selection.
Because both prosecution and defense attorneys want questionnaires, the Judge Schroeder said he will take the use of questionnaires under advisement.
Judge Schroeder makes comments on media coverage of the Rittenhouse case:
“There has been some grossly irresponsible misreporting on a few occasions about what happened in this case.”
“The case should not be tried in the media.”
If you are following the case closely, it is worth taking the time to watch the entire two-hour and 36-minute hearing.
Coverage by other national media was extremely limited. There is much detail in the video. It would require tens of thousands of words to completely cover it in a written article.
About Dean Weingarten:
Dean Weingarten has been a peace officer, a military officer, was on the University of Wisconsin Pistol Team for four years, and was first certified to teach firearms safety in 1973. He taught the Arizona concealed carry course for fifteen years until the goal of Constitutional Carry was attained. He has degrees in meteorology and mining engineering, and retired from the Department of Defense after a 30 year career in Army Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation.