State of Wisconsin looks to block defense in Rittenhouse case from referring to shot men as "looters"
Story Teller: Deneen Smith
Prosecutors are asking a judge to prohibit defense attorneys from referring to the men shot by Kyle Rittenhouse as rioters or looters.
Rittenhouse, 18, is scheduled to go to trial Nov. 1 on charges of homicide and attempted homicide for the shooting deaths of Joseph Rosenbaum of Kenosha and Anthony Huber of Silver Lake, and the wounding of Gaige Grosskreutz of West Allis in August 2020 during protests and rioting in the Kenosha following the shooting of Jacob Blake by a Kenosha Police officer. Rittenhouse and his supporters have maintained he was defending himself.
In a motion filed Monday, the defense is asking Kenosha County Circuit Court Judge Bruce Schroeder to prohibit the defense from referring to past criminal history of any of the men, of any pending lawsuits related to the case, or of referring to any of the three men in “pejorative” terms.
The motion also asks that all parties in the case refer to Rittenhouse, the witnesses and the men shot “formally by their last names.” Throughout the case, supporters of Rittenhouse have typically referred to him as Kyle, emphasizing his youth.
At an earlier hearing in the case, Schroeder told prosecutors they could not refer to any of the men shot in the case as victims. That is Schroeder’s standard practice in criminal cases and is not unique to his handling of the Rittenhouse case.
At another hearing, defense attorney Mark Richards, while arguing that Rosenbaum’s criminal history should be heard by the jury at trial, called Rosenbaum a rioter. “These were not protesters, they were rioters,” he said at the time while arguing that he believed Rosenbaum was trying to steal Rittenhouse’s gun.
“There has never been a judicial determination that any of these individuals rioted, looted or committed arson on the night of Aug. 25, 2020,” the new motion states. “Further, the defendant deprived Mr. Rosenbaum and Mr. Huber of their ability to defend their reputations against these sorts of attacks when he killed them both.”
Block also sought on water evidence
In addition to seeking to block the defense from referring to the three men as rioters or looters, the state is asking that Schroeder block the defense from “introducing any evidence that an anonymous law enforcement officer provided water to the defendant or told the defendant and other individuals ‘we appreciate you guys, we really do.”
In a video widely circulated on social media and news media, a law enforcement officer in an armored vehicle can be seen sharing bottles of water with a group of armed men, including Rittenhouse, the officer saying “we appreciate you guys.”
“The state anticipates that the defense will seek to introduce evidence that an anonymous law enforcement officer made a statement somehow approving the defendant’s actions that night. Any such statement is irrelevant hearsay,” the motion states. “The state also anticipates that the defense will seek to introduce evidence that an anonymous law enforcement officer told the defendant or his associates that police were going to let them handle the crowd. Again, any such statement is irrelevant hearsay.”
Rittenhouse is next expected in court on Oct. 25 for the continuation of a motion hearing addressing evidence and expert witnesses that will be allowed at trial. The trial itself, scheduled to begin Nov. 1, is expected to last two to three weeks.
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