Kyle Rittenhouse defense gets victory as judge denies several motions by prosecution ahead of trial

NOW: Kyle Rittenhouse defense gets victory as judge denies several motions by prosecution ahead of trial

KENOSHA, Wis. (CBS 58) -- A judge denied several motions made by prosecutors at a hearing Friday, Sept. 17 for the case of the Illinois man charged with shooting and killing two people and injuring a third during unrest in Kenosha in 2020.

Kyle Rittenhouse, who was 17 at the time of the incident, sat in silence as his defense and the prosecution argued over if new evidence should be used in his upcoming trial.

"The key issue in this case is the defendant's state of mind," Kenosha County Assistant District Attorney Thomas Binger said.

Prosecutors want to depict Rittenhouse as a lawless and violent vigilante and intended to use events before and after the shooting to be used in the trial under the category of "other acts."

One motion was to include photos of Rittenhouse posing with members of the Proud Boys organization as well as information about a meeting he had with leadership of the group in Miami.

The Proud Boys organization is considered a hate group by the Anti-Defamation League and the Southern Poverty Law Center.

"The defendant's actions of coming into our community illegally after curfew, with a gun, at the time of a protest, is entirely consistent with what the Proud Boys make it their job to do, and then he meets with the leaders afterwards," Binger said.

The defense argued the connection to the focus of the trial was a weak one.

"I don’t believe, certainly as it relates to the Proud Boys, I don't think you get to this judge," Rittenhouse attorney Cory Chirafisi said. "Unless Mr. Binger can point to some indication that on that day there's a connection that he can actually put forth in evidence, but otherwise, I believe the evidence is not relevant and should not be admitted."

Judge Bruce Schroeder sided with the defense and denied that motion.

Other motions denied included:

  • A motion by the prosecution to include a video of Rittenhouse hitting a girl who was in an altercation with Rittenhouse's sister, two months before the Aug. 25, 2020 shooting in Kenosha
  • A motion by the prosecution to force the defense to turn over a list of donors to the "Free Kyle USA" defense fund, though the judge said that information could be subpoenaed
  • A motion by the defense to include the criminal background of one of the men Rittenhouse killed as evidence for the trial

Another piece of evidence the prosecution wants to include is a video where Rittenhouse says he wishes he had a firearm to shoot people he suspected of looting a CVS store in Chicago.

"Bro, I wish I had my [expletive] AR, I'd start shooting rounds at them," Rittenhouse is heard saying.

The video was taken 15 days before the shooting in Kenosha.

"This goes exactly to his state of mind, his understanding of use of force, his understanding of self-defense," Binger said.

"He doesn't do anything," Chirafisi rebutted. "He doesn't open his window, he doesn't honk the horn, he does nothing but passively sit and watch."

The judge held off on making a decision, but expressed skepticism of the prosecution's argument.

"The incidents are so dissimilar it seems to me," Judge Schroeder said. "But on this one, I think I'm going to withhold a final decision with a bias towards refusing the receipts of the evidence."

Schroeder still has to decide on whether or not a questionnaire will be used for jury selection and if he will dismiss a misdemeanor charge of Rittenhouse possessing a firearm as a minor.

A pre-trial hearing is set for Oct. 5. The trial is set to begin on Nov. 1.

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