KENOSHA, WIS. — On day three of Kyle Rittenhouse’s murder trial on Wednesday, the prosecutor once again clashed with the judge, this time over video evidence the prosecution wanted to play for the jury.
Prosecutors wanted to show footage to jurors of an armed Rittenhouse shortly before the shooting from Milwaukee-based outlet TheRundownLive.
The defense objected to the audio of the footage, saying the person who shot the video was “editorializing” in his narration, making it “hearsay” and therefore unacceptable. The video’s narrator repeatedly referred to Rittenhouse and the other armed men near him as a “militia.”
Assistant District Attorney Thomas Binger argued that the narration accompanying the video helped to illustrate Rittenhouse’s “state of mind” at the time, a suggestion that prompted scoffs from the defense.
“Unless this un-subpoenaed person can read minds, that’s a ridiculous argument. This narrator is going to prove my client’s state of mind? That’s absurd,” attorney Mark Richards said.
The jury was asked to leave while the prosecution, defense, and the judge engaged in several minutes of heated discussion on the issue.
Judge Bruce Schroeder at times appeared exasperated with the prosecutor and agreed with the defense, saying that some of the narration seemingly could be “hearsay.”
Schroeder eventually decided that the prosecution could play the video but had to mute it except when the audio was relevant.
Rittenhouse, 18, traveled 15 miles to Kenosha on August 25 of last year when he was 17 with the intention of protecting businesses from looting and vandalism.
He armed himself with a Smith & Wesson M&P15, which is an AR-15 style semi-automatic rifle that police say his friend illegally bought for him, and a medical kit.
The city had devolved into rioting over the police shooting of Jacob Blake, a black man, by a white cop.
While Rittenhouse was patrolling the downtown Kenosha area, he had several altercations with protesters that resulted in Rittenhouse fatally shooting two people, Joseph Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber, and injuring a third person, Gaige Grosskreutz. The defendant and the three men he shot are all white.
Rittenhouse has pled not guilty to charges of homicide and attempted homicide. His attorneys argue he acted in self-defense. During Wednesday’s trial, Rittenhouse appeared relatively composed and sat hunched over next to his attorneys, watching every video on a television monitor set up on the defense table. When the videos played the moments of the shootings, he sometimes looked down or away.
Later in the day, Rittenhouse’s attorneys demonstrated from several videos played for the jury that a separate person fired a gun into the air just seconds before the teen fired his first shots that killed Rosenbaum.
A man named Joshua Ziminski fired one shot about 2.5 seconds before Rittenhouse opened fire and fatally shot Rosenbaum four times, Kenosha Police Detective Martin Howard testified. Howard is one of the lead police investigators on Rittenhouse’s case.
The jury was shown more than a dozen videos on Wednesday that included graphic content of the shootings, including footage of one of the men Rittenhouse killed lying motionless on the ground as well as the man he shot and injured screaming and bleeding from his arm. The videos also showed the protesters accosting Rittenhouse as well as the surrounding chaos and the panic of bystanders in the aftermath of the shootings.
In another video, a police officer can be heard telling an armed Rittenhouse, “We appreciate you guys, we really do.”