Salem Radio Network News Sunday, December 5, 2021

U.S.

U.S. teenager Rittenhouse’s lawyers seek mistrial over video evidence

By Nathan Layne

KENOSHA, Wis. (Reuters) – Defense lawyers in the Wisconsin murder trial of Kyle Rittenhouse said on Wednesday they would ask for a mistrial because of a dispute with prosecutors over video evidence, as the jury watched footage of his shootings at protests last year.

Rittenhouse, 18, is charged with killing Joseph Rosenbaum, 36, and Anthony Huber, 26, and attempted homicide in the wounding of Gaige Grosskreutz, 28, during a chaotic night of protests in Kenosha, Wisconsin on Aug. 25, 2020.

At issue is a drone video which shows Rosenbaum chasing Rittenhouse in the parking lot of a used-car dealership and the teenager turning and opening fire with his semi-automatic rifle as Rosenbaum gets close to him. The prosecution made the video a main plank of their case to the jury, which is in the second day of deliberations on a verdict.

Rittenhouse’s lawyers accused the prosecution of withholding a high-definition version of the drone footage until Saturday, after the case was already closed to new evidence. Prosecutors said the video was likely compressed by the defense lawyer’s computers after it was sent to them.

The video issue was cited as one factor in a motion by the defense on Monday seeking a mistrial with prejudice, meaning Rittenhouse could not be prosecuted again. Kenosha County Judge Bruce Schroeder has not ruled on that motion but the judge did rule on Wednesday that the 12 jurors could watch the video as part of their deliberations.

Defense attorney Corey Chirafisi said he would seek a mistrial without prejudice. Chirafisi said the defense would have approached the trial differently if they had known about the existence of a higher-resolution video, without elaborating.

Referring to the defense receiving a compressed version of the video, Kenosha County Assistant District Attorney James Kraus said a “technical incident” did not warrant a mistrial.

“It’s not debatable that it’s not fair what happened,” Chirafisi said. “We didn’t know there was another version.”

The jury asked to review the drone video and other videos of both the Rosenbaum shooting and the subsequent shootings of Huber and Grosskreutz as protesters chased the teenager down the street.

Schroeder cleared the courtroom for the jurors, who were to watch the videos on a large screen TV just outside the jury box.

The shootings took place in Kenosha during protests – marred by arson, rioting and looting – that followed the police shooting of a Black man, Jacob Blake, who was left paralyzed from the waist down.

Rittenhouse, who was 17 at the time, has pleaded not guilty and took the stand last week to argue that he only fired his weapon after the men attacked him. He said Rosenbaum, the first person he shot that night, grabbed the barrel of his rifle.

Livestreamed, the Rittenhouse trial has emerged as the most closely watched case involving a civilian’s right to self-defense since George Zimmerman was acquitted in the fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed Black teenager, in 2013.

Like Zimmerman, Rittenhouse has become a polarizing figure, viewed as heroic by some conservatives who favor expansive gun rights and as a symbol of a reckless American gun culture by many on the left.

Kenosha has been on edge during the trial, and a small crowd of demonstrators assembled on the courthouse steps again on Wednesday, some holding signs in support of Rittenhouse and others calling for his conviction.

Outside the courthouse, a man carrying an AR-15-style rifle and a bullhorn was told by Kenosha County Sheriff’s deputies he could not be in the area because it was in close proximity to a school. The man, who called himself Maserati Mike, got in his black Maserati car and drove away without incident.

(Additional reporting by Brendan McDermid in Kenosha; Editing by Alistair Bell and Grant McCool)

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