The defense has rested in the trial of Kyle Rittenhouse, the man who shot and killed two people and injured another during demonstrations following the 2020 police shooting of Jacob Blake.
Both sides are expected to conclude with closing arguments, which will begin Monday, November 15. Regardless of the outcome, many might remember the trial for the shenanigans of Judge Bruce Schroeder.
The longtime jurist set the tone early for controversy when he ruled that those whom Rittenhouse shot and killed were “rioters,” “arsonists,” or “looters.”
“They cannot be referred to as victims,” Judge Schroeder declared.
The judge, who called a prosecutor a liar in front of the jury, proved combative with the prosecution team, and he asked the jury to give a defense witness a round of applause following testimony.
He also threatened to take under consideration a defense motion to declare a mistrial with prejudice, meaning that Rittenhouse could not be tried in the future.
Judge Schroeder’s telephone ringtone was also identified as having a MAGA ringtone, and he also invoked Bible scriptures and made a strange and off-color remark about Asian food.
Rittenhouse himself took the stand earlier in the week and calmly provided his account of what happened on the night that protests in Kenosha. But the 18-year-old later burst into sobbing which forced the judge to declare a short recess.
Though no tears were evident, and the timing of his sobbing appeared odd after methodically describing events, Rittenhouse quickly recovered and claimed he was the victim of an ambush.
“He was just made about something,” Rittenhouse testified about one of his victims, Joseph Rosenbaum. Rittenhouse claimed that he arrived on the scene to see if anyone at the protest needed medical help.
The protests were in response to Kenosha police shooting African American Jacob Blake multiple times. Armed with an AR-15-style rifle, Rittenhouse said he arrived with a group of other armed citizens who sought to keep peace and aide victims of violence.
Rittenhouse shot and killed Rosenbaum who had become upset with a teenager and threw a bag at him. During the altercation, Rittenhouse fell and shot at three people whom he said confronted him.
“He’s no longer a threat to me,” Rittenhouse said of Rosenbaum, claiming that another person had their hands up and didn’t pose a threat, so he didn’t shoot him.
Rittenhouse killed two people and wounded another during the August 25, 2020, incident. He then testified that he saw a pistol in shooting victim Gaige Grosskreutz’s hand. He said he reacted by shooting Grosskreutz.
Rittenhouse is charged with five felonies, a misdemeanor, and a non-criminal violation. He has pleaded not guilty. Prosecutors said Rittenhouse’s actions constituted criminal homicide.
“I did what I had to do to stop the person who was attacking me,” Rittenhouse said under cross-examination by prosecutor Thomas Binger. “I used deadly force to stop the threat,” he said, answering “yes” to the questions that he intentionally used deadly force against four people.
Rittenhouse then claimed Rosenbaum tried to steal his gun.
Judge Bruce Schroeder, who pretrial ruled that those shot by Rittenhouse cannot be labeled as victims, halted Binger’s cross-examination, and angrily questioned the prosecutor’s tactics.
Schroeder and Binger engaged in a testy back-and-forth, as Rittenhouse’s attorneys threatened to demand a “mistrial with prejudice,” the judge admonished the prosecutor.
“Don’t get brazen with me,” Schroeder asserted.
Stacy M. Brown is an NNPA Newswire Senior national correspondent