By Emma Colton
Rittenhouse is set to stand trial beginning Nov. 1 on multiple counts, including homicide. The 18-year-old argues he opened fire in self-defense after men attacked him during a riot following the police shooting of Jacob Blake. Prosecutors say they have infrared video from an FBI surveillance plane that shows Rittenhouse followed and confronted the first man he shot.
Rittenhouse was 17 when he traveled from his home in Antioch, Illinois, about 20 miles (32 kilometers) to Kenosha on Aug. 25, 2020, in response to a call on social media to protect businesses there.
Rittenhouse then shot Joseph Rosenbaum, Anthony Huber and Gaige Grosskreutz, killing Rosenbaum and Huber and wounding Grosskreutz.
During a hearing Friday on several motions, Assistant District Attorney Thomas Binger asked to argue at trial that Rittenhouse subscribes to the far-right group, the Proud Boys, and its philosophies. Binger pointed out that Rittenhouse was seen at a bar with members of the group’s Wisconsin chapter in January and traveled to Miami days later to meet the group’s national president.
Binger also asked the judge to allow evidence that Rittenhouse attacked a woman in June 2020 as she was fighting his sister. He also wants to show jurors video from 15 days before the shootings in which Rittenhouse said he would like to shoot some men he thought were shoplifting from a pharmacy.
Rittenhouse attorney Corey Chirafisi countered that none of the events are relevant to the shootings. Nothing shows Rittenhouse was connected to the Proud Boys on the night of the protest or that the shootings were racially motivated, Chirafisi said, pointing out that Rittenhouse and the men he shot were white.
Kenosha County Circuit Judge Bruce Schroeder agreed with the defense about the June fight and interactions Rittenhouse has had with the Proud Boys. He deferred a decision on the pharmacy video but said he was inclined to exclude it.
He delayed ruling on defense requests to dismiss a charge that Rittenhouse possessed his gun illegally because he was a minor and to allow testimony from an expert on police use-of-force. He set another hearing for Oct. 5.
Rittenhouse has found support from many across the country, who have raised $2 million to cover his bail, and former President Donald Trump even suggested last year that Rittenhouse acted in self-defense.
“He was trying to get away from them, I guess, it looks like,” Trump said during a news conference in August. “I guess he was in very big trouble. He probably would have been killed.”
Rittenhouse’s mother also slammed President Biden in November over a presidential campaign ad that used Rittenhouse’s image “to get votes.”
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