4 Takeaways From the Kyle Rittenhouse Homicide Trial
On the fourth day of the trial, jurors were shown graphic videos from the chaotic night in 2020 when shootings broke out after demonstrations in Kenosha, Wis.,
The fourth day of the Kyle Rittenhouse trial in Kenosha, Wis., was marked by graphic video of the shootings on Aug. 25, 2020, and by emotional testimony by a witness who was only feet away from Mr. Rittenhouse as he shot and killed Joseph Rosenbaum, one of three men who were shot that day.
The prosecution called Richie McGinniss, the video director for The Daily Caller, a conservative news and opinion site; Ryan Balch, one of a number of armed men, including Mr. Rittenhouse, who came to Kenosha after protests over a police shooting turned destructive; and Detective Martin Howard of the Kenosha Police Department.
Here are four key points from the fourth day of the trial of Mr. Rittenhouse, who is charged with six counts, including first-degree reckless homicide, first-degree intentional homicide and attempted first-degree intentional homicide. Mr. Rittenhouse’s lawyers have said he was acting in self-defense.
The judge dismissed a juror.
Judge Bruce Schroeder of Kenosha County Circuit Court began the day by resolving an issue that was raised the day before: A juror in the trial made a joke about Jacob Blake to a sheriff’s deputy as the juror was being escorted to his vehicle this week.
Thomas Binger, the prosecutor, asked the judge to dismiss the juror from the trial, saying the remark suggested that the juror, who is white, had a racial bias. The demonstrations in Kenosha began after Mr. Blake, who is Black, was shot by Rusten Sheskey, a white police officer who was trying to arrest him.
The joke, Mr. Binger explained to the judge, went something like this: “Why did the Kenosha police shoot Jacob Blake seven times? Because they ran out of bullets.”
Judge Schroeder brought the juror, an older man, into the courtroom and asked if he had made the comments. The juror acknowledged that he had, but declined the judge’s request to repeat the remarks in open court.
The juror said that in his view, his comments were unrelated to the Rittenhouse trial.
“My feeling is it has nothing to do with the case,” the juror said.
“It was really bad judgment to tell a joke of that nature,” Judge Schroeder told him, and thanked him for his service.
“I’ve talked quite a bit about public confidence in the outcome of the trial,” Judge Schroeder said. “It is clear that the appearance of bias is present, and it would seriously undermine the outcome of the case.”
The juror was excused, leaving eight men and 11 women — most of whom are white — on the jury. Ultimately, only 12 members of the jury will deliberate and be asked to reach a verdict. In Kenosha County, where 169,000 people live, 75 percent of residents are white.
A key witness to the shooting of the first victim testified.
Jurors on Thursday heard from a witness with a close-up view of the first of the three shootings. Mr. McGinniss of The Daily Caller testified that he saw Mr. Rittenhouse shoot Mr. Rosenbaum, 36, before Mr. McGinniss helped rush Mr. Rosenbaum to a hospital across the street.
Mr. McGinniss is both a witness and a named victim. One of the criminal counts against Mr. Rittenhouse accuses him of recklessly endangering the safety of Mr. McGinniss, who testified that he quickly checked to see if he had also been shot. Mr. Binger, the prosecutor, has emphasized that Mr. Rosenbaum, who joined the demonstrations that night, was unarmed when Mr. Rittenhouse shot him. Mr. Binger also has attempted to create doubt about Mr. Rittenhouse’s defense — that he was only defending himself — by raising questions about Mr. Rittenhouse’s decisions that night.
Mr. Rittenhouse had run down the chaotic streets amid the demonstrations with a fire extinguisher and a military-style rifle before the shootings began. Questioned about that, Mr. McGinniss testified, “It’s not the way that I was taught to handle a weapon in a public place.”
Mark Richards, Mr. Rittenhouse’s defense lawyer, suggested in his questioning that Mr. Rosenbaum had posed danger to Mr. Rittenhouse in the period before the shooting. Mr. McGinniss told jurors that Mr. Rosenbaum ran at Mr. Rittenhouse, lunged at him and reached for Mr. Rittenhouse’s gun before Mr. Rittenhouse fired. At one point, Mr. McGinniss stood up as he testified to demonstrate how Mr. Rosenbaum had lunged.
The prosecution relied on graphic videos.
As Mr. Binger laid out the prosecution’s case, he replayed in court lengthy videos that were captured on livestreams and cellphones that night. Some videos documented downtown Kenosha in the hours before the shootings, when groups of protesters and armed men lingered outside of gas stations, churches and other buildings.
The jury was also shown video of the chaos immediately following the shootings, including graphic clips of Mr. Rosenbaum unresponsive and struggling to breathe after being shot four times.
Mr. McGinniss appeared to grow emotional on the witness stand as Mr. Binger played clips of him frantically trying to apply pressure to Mr. Rosenbaum’s gunshot wounds.
Another armed man who had come to Kenosha said he saw Mr. Rittenhouse as “underexperienced.”
Another prosecution witness, who said he — like Mr. Rittenhouse — had come to Kenosha that night to help protect businesses amid the unrest, told jurors that he met Mr. Rittenhouse that night and considered it part of his responsibility to watch over him.
The witness, Ryan Balch, testified that he was a military veteran who had been deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan and had come from his home north of Milwaukee after demonstrations unfolded in Kenosha.
“He seemed a little underequipped and underexperienced,” Mr. Balch said of Mr. Rittenhouse, who was 17 at the time. Mr. Balch added that his sense of Mr. Rittenhouse “was one of the reasons we kind of stayed with him.” Mr. Balch said he was concerned that Mr. Rittenhouse’s youth and “the general way he was carrying himself” might make him vulnerable on the street.
But Mr. Balch also seemed to offer testimony that might be favorable to the defense, saying that he had observed Mr. Rosenbaum before the shooting appearing to be “hyperaggressive” and frequently being restrained by others. He testified that Mr. Rosenbaum had threatened him, Mr. Rittenhouse and others at one point, saying that if he caught any of them alone that night, he would kill them.