Jury seated for trial of Kyle Rittenhouse
KENOSHA, Wis. (CBS 58) -- A jury has been seated in the homicide trial of Kyle Rittenhouse.
On Monday, Nov. 1, more than 150 jurors were summoned to potentially sit on the panel. A group of 34 jurors was questioned, and when one was dismissed, another member of the pool was added.
Eighteen-year-old Rittenhouse is accused of killing two protesters and injuring a third on August 25, 2020. It happened during protests that followed the officer-involved shooting of Jacob Blake. Rittenhouse claims it was self-defense.
The jurors were questioned by the judge, then the prosecution and lastly the defense. They were asked questions about their occupations, education and what they know about this case. Since the Rittenhouse case was widely publicized, every juror questioned said they had heard about it.
"Whatever feelings you may have had coming in here, can you shed them and follow the presumption of our law and presume the defendant is innocent and refuse to vote guilty unless find beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant is guilty?" Judge Bruce Schroeder asked the potential jurors.
Several jurors said they had formed opinions and 11 were dismissed because they said they just couldn't put those opinions aside.
Another issue that came up during questioning was safety. Some jurors said they're afraid of sitting on a jury for such a high profile case.
"You're scared to go to your car," one juror said. "You're scared to go home. I live very close to Antioch, where he [Rittenhouse] is from.'
"There are measures that will be taken with the jury that is selected to deal with those fears," Judge Schroeder said in response. The judge said he would explain those safety measures to the jury that is selected.
Another question that got a lot of reaction from the jurors came from Prosecutor Thomas Binger. He asked if anyone took steps to protect themselves or family during the 2020 unrest. Several said yes; some bought guns, others left town, some formed neighborhood watches.
After questioning as a group finished, individual voir dire began. Several jurors who had raised concerns or had personal conflicts were questioned outside the presence of other jurors, either because the issues are too personal or because they could prejudice the pool.
Around 7 p.m. Monday, a panel of 34 jurors was set.
The defense and prosecution got seven strikes each, and around 7:15 a 20-person jury had been selected.
The jury is made up of 11 women and nine men, predominantly white with one person of color.
Ultimately only 12 will deliberate, and eight are alternates.
Opening statements will begin at 9 a.m. Tuesday.
The judge says there's less than a 1% chance that the jury will be sequestered.
He cautioned them not to read or watch anything about the case.