KENOSHA, Wis. – Jurors in the Kyle Rittenhouse trial were deliberating on a verdict for a third day Thursday while the judge considers a request from the defense for a mistrial.
A key piece of evidence in the prosecution’s case – a drone video that shows Rittenhouse fatally shootingThe first person he shot at was him. on the night of Aug. 25, 2020 – was called into question Wednesday when Rittenhouse’s defense lawyers said they received a lower quality version of the clip.
Rittenhouse, 18, is charged with first-degree intentional homicide, first-degree reckless homicide and attempted first-degree intentional homicide stemming from shootings that occurred during a violent night of protest over police brutality in Kenosha, Wisconsin. If convicted, Rittenhouse faces a life sentence.
The mistrial request was the latest turn in a dramatic trial that has lasted over a week and features dozens of witnesses and videos. Rittenhouse claims he was simply defending himself. The state, however, says Rittenhouse was actually looking to provoke a fight when the 17-year old brought his AR-15 style rifle into the city. It created an active shooter situation.
Check back for updates starting WednesdayDefense asks for mistrial over video
Judge Bruce Schroeder, who has drawn both sharp criticism and high praise over how he has handled the case, has yet to rule on the mistrial motion. Rittenhouse would not be allowed to go back on trial if he had not decided on his defense motion for mistrial with prejudice.
Rittenhouse fatally shot Joseph Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber and wounded Gaige Grosskreutz during the tense night of protests. Jacob Blake, a Black male paralysed to his waist by a white policeman, was the cause of unrest. All federal and state charges against the officer were dropped.
Rittenhouse was also accused of reckless endangerment. The jury was instructed to look at lesser charges for certain counts.
Judge exempts MSNBC
Schroeder banned MSNBC from the courthouse Thursday after police said they briefly detained a man who had followed the jury bus and may have tried to photograph jurors – the latest dramatic turn in the politically divisive case that has seen everything from shouting matches in court, tearful outbursts and backlash over actions and remarks by the judge.
Schroeder stated that the man claimed to have been working for MSNBC.
NBC News said in a statement that the man was a freelancer who received a citation for a traffic violation that took place near the jury vehicle, and he “never contacted or intended to contact the jurors during deliberations, and never photographed or intended to photograph them.”
According to the statement, the network regrets the incident and will fully cooperate in an investigation.
By court order, the jurors who started deliberating Tuesday are anonymized. Schroeder stated that they rode in a bus with windows covered to prevent them seeing signs regarding the case.
Schroeder stated that the man who followed the jury bus was told to do so by New York’s boss. “The matter is under further investigation at this point,” he said.
Kenosha police stated that the suspect was temporarily taken into custody, and they issued multiple traffic-related citations.
The judge called it an “extremely serious matter” and said it will be “referred to the proper authorities for further action.”
Lawyers spar over drone video
Jurors had sent Schroder a question on Wednesday asking how they could view video evidence. The lawyers then got into an argument over key drone videos.
Defense attorney Corey Chirafisi called for a mistrial in the afternoon, saying the issue had to do with basic fairness and that they didn’t realize the clip was a lower quality until Friday when both sides were debating jury instructions.
According to state claims, Rittenhouse instigated the attack. This would raise doubts about Rittenhouse’s ability to claim self-defense. Prosecutors say the video shows Rittenhouse raise his rifle at a couple who had been with Rosenbaum much of the night. According to them, that action provoked Rosenbaum’s pursuit of Rittenhouse who, four times, shot Rosenbaum unarmed after they ran across a lot.
The defense said that’s not what the video showed, adding that Rosenbaum had been acting aggressively and irrationally all night, threatening to kill Rittenhouse if he caught him alone.
The video didn’t come into play in the trial until Nov. 5, when a former employee from the the owner of the company that operated the droneThe video was given to Assistant District Attorney James Kraus Wednesday. The video was shared at some point during the sharing process.with defense attorneys, the file was condensed, thereby lowering its quality.
However, Kraus cast doubt on the defense’s claim that they didn’t have a higher-quality version, saying Rittenhouse’s former attorney, John Pierce, had shared the drone video last year on Fox News’ “Tucker Carlson Tonight” and the footage appeared to be of high resolution.
Jurors were shown the clip during the trial and given a laptop that included it and other videos to review during deliberations. Schroeder also allowed them to watch on a large, high-resolution TV in the courtroom, with everyone else locked out.
However, Schroeder said he has been “very queasy” about the drone video, and expressed his concerns about whether it was technologically sound earlier in the trial.
Hot spots for divisionThe Arbery trial and Rittenhouse case reflect deeper political, racial divisions
Mistrial has not been decided by the judge
Schroeder on Wednesday allowed the jury to continue to view the evidence but said the mistrial requests will have to be addressed if there is a guilty verdict. Even if Rittenhouse was convicted, the judge may still allow the motion to dismiss without prejudice. Rittenhouse can also appeal the decision on these same points.
Rittenhouse supporters had long dismissed the possibility of Rittenhouse being convicted. However, Rittenhouse was requesting a mistrial.
The mistrial was requested by defense lawyers last week. Defense attorneys claimed that prosecutors made inappropriate comments on Rittenhouse’s right to silence and then tried to present evidence the judge had earlier rejected as inadmissible.
On Monday, defense officials expressed concerns over the surveillance drone. Schroeder on Wednesday clarified that he hadn’t yet read the written motion and wanted to give prosecutors time to respond. By Wednesday they had not.
Schroeder in spotlight:Kenosha courtshouse received letters of support as well as criticism from Rittenhouse trial judge.
What sentence could Rittenhouse serve in prison?
While Rittenhouse’s most serious charge, first-degree intentional homicide in Huber’s death, includes a mandatory life sentence, he could face lengthy prison time for the other charges, too.
Jurors may consider lesser charges in Huber’s death that could carry up to 60 years in prison, and the first-degree reckless homicide charge in Rosenbaum’s death also carries up to 60 years with an additional five additional years for the “use of a dangerous weapon” modifier.
There are no additional chargesRittenhouse jury will look at lesser charges in fatal shooting cases. Let’s see what this means.
Grosskreutz’s attempted first-degree intentional murder could result in a sentence of 60 years plus five additional years for using the same weapon modifier. The jury may also consider other lesser charges.
Each count of first-degree recklessly endangering safety, connected to the unidentified man and the Daily Caller reporter, carries up to 12½ years in prison, plus a five-year weapon modifier. Rittenhouse shot at the man twice, before shooting Grosskreutz and Huber. According to the Daily Caller, a bullet flew past the reporter who was present at the Rosenbaum shooting scene.
Contributing: Elliot Hughes & Ashley Luthern, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel; Associated Press