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The trial for Kyle Rittenhouse has begun. Rittenhouse was 17 years old when he drove to a BLM protest in Wisconsin and killed two men and wounded another after the police shooting of Jacob Blake in August of 2020. Rittenhouse is charged with felony homicide related to the killings and felony attempted homicide for wounding another. Rittenhouse’s lawyers have said he was acting in self-defense. The teen is also charged with possession of a dangerous weapon while under the age of 18.
Last week, the Kenosha County Circuit Judge presiding over the case, Bruce Schroeder, said in a pretrial hearing that those killed and wounded by Rittenhouse should not be referred to as “victims”.
“Let the evidence show what the evidence shows, that any or one of these people were engaged in arson, rioting or looting, then I’m not going to tell the defense they can’t call them that,” Schroeder said. Schroeder has a longstanding rule of not allowing prosecutors to refer to people as “victims” at trial.
Judge dismisses juror over racist joke
Day four of the trial began with Judge Schroeder dismissing one of the jurors for what was deemed a racially biased joke. The juror made the joke to a sheriff’s deputy as he was being escorted to his vehicle.
“Why did the Kenosha police shoot Jacob Blake seven times? Because they ran out of bullets,” the juror joked to the officer. Thomas Binger, the prosecutor, asked Judge Schroeder to dismiss the juror saying the joke suggested racial bias.
“It was really bad judgement to tell a joke of that nature,” Schroeder told the juror as he dismissed him. “I’ve talked quite a bit about public confidence in the outcome of the trial. It is clear that the appearance of bias is present, and it would seriously undermine the outcome of the cast.”
Graphic video was shown by the prosecution from cellphones and livestreams in Kenosha the night of the shooting. The videos showed groups of protestors and armed men throughout the streets of Kenosha before Rittenhouse shot his gun and the chaos immediately following.
Witnesses who were near Rittenhouse before and after the shooting have taken the stand for the prosecution. The defense is expected to begin their case sometime next week.