A judge on Monday denied multiple motions filed by prosecutors, including one asking the judge to block Kyle Rittenhouse’s lawyers from referring to the three men he shot as “looters” or “rioters.” The judge also allowed the defense’s use-of-force expert to testify at trial next week.
Kenosha County Assistant District Attorney Thomas Binger filed a motion on October 11 asking Kenosha County Circuit Judge Bruce Schroeder to prohibit Rittenhouse’s lawyers from referring to the past criminal history of any of the three men who Rittenhouse shot on August 25, 2020.
The motion also asks Schroeder to prohibit the defense from referring to any pending lawsuits related to the case and from referring to any of the three men in “pejorative” terms.
Binger said those pejorative terms include “rioters, looters, arsonists” and other similar terms. The motion asks that everyone in the case be referred to by their last name.
Schroeder denied that request in a hearing Monday afternoon, saying the defense can use those terms if evidence shows that the three men Rittenhouse shot — Joseph Rosenbaum, Anthony Huber and Gaige Grosskreutz — were rioters, looters, or arsonists.
“Let the evidence show what the evidence shows, and if the evidence shows that if any or more than one of these people were engaged in arson, rioting, or looting, then I’m not going to tell the defense they can’t call them that,” Schroeder said.
Rittenhouse’s lawyers filed a request with the court for John R. Black, an expert witness, to testify at Rittenhouse’s trial.
On October 5, Black said he believed Rittenhouse’s actions on that night meet the Wisconsin statute for self-defense.
Binger asked Schroeder to block Black’s testimony, saying that jurors will see the same videos Black saw and his analysis on the timing of the shootings and intent would be irrelevant as a result.
Binger also argued that Black’s testimony would unnecessarily prolong the trial.
“Anybody can use a stopwatch to time a sequence of events in a video. Anyone can stop a video and watch it frame by frame,” Binger argued when citing Black’s analysis into the timing of the shootings in his 27-page report.
“There are opinions as to the intent of people. I don’t think that’s something that Dr. Black should be giving an opinion on. I don’t think he’s qualified to give that opinion. He acknowledged in his report he hasn’t spoken to the defendant, so he can’t guess what the defendant’s intent was. He can’t give an opinion as to what the defendant’s intent was. He certainly can’t give an opinion as to what Joseph Rosenbaum or Anthony Huber intended before they’re both dead,” Binger said.
“His guess as to their intent is no better than the jurors’ guess, and his training and expertise is not going to put him in any better position than the reasonable people that we’re going to be picking for this jury. They will be shown the exact same things that Dr. Black has seen,” Binger added.
Mark Richards, Rittenhouse’s attorney, rebutted Binger’s argument by saying Black’s testimony is valuable because he is certified in video analysis.
“If we have five people timing these things, you’re going to have five different stopwatches, five different times,” Richards said.
Richards also argued that Rosenbaum’s prior behavior to Rittenhouse can show what was on Rosenbaum’s mind.
Judge Schroeder allowed Black to testify at the trial, saying that the timing of events is crucial and his analysis would increase accuracy.
Binger said he would have no issue if Black’s report was about timing only, but said his interpretations of intention are “crossing the line.”
Both the defense and prosecution made a deal and agreed to have Black testify only about the timeline of events. In return, Binger agreed he would not call his use-of-force expert, Robert Willis, to testify.
Schroeder also denied the prosecution’s motion asking him to block evidence from being admitted by the defense that shows a law enforcement officer providing water to Rittenhouse and telling him and others “we appreciate you guys, we really do” on the night of the shootings.
Binger argued there is no connection between the short police interaction and the shootings.
“This is not a trial about the police activities. It is not a trial of police tactics. It is not a trial of whether or not law enforcement that night took action or didn’t take action. This is a case of what the defendant did that night.”
“I’m concerned that this is going to be turned into a trial over what law enforcement should or shouldn’t have done that night,” Binger said.
Corey Chirafisi, another one of Rittenhouse’s attorneys, argued that Rittenhouse’s interactions with law enforcement showed his intent and showed Rittenhouse was not acting in a reckless manner, citing the reckless homicide charges against Rittenhouse.
“The way that Mr. Binger has chosen to charge the case has opened up, in our view, the facts and circumstances surrounding when it happened because the totality of the circumstances go into play in determining whether or not (Rittenhouse’s) behavior shows an utter disregard for human life,” Chirafisi said.
Schroeder decided to allow the video of the interaction to be shown at the trial.
Rittenhouse’s trial will begin next Monday.