Rittenhouse trial: Emotional testimony on day 4 as witnesses recall shooting deaths
KENOSHA, Wis. (CBS 58) -- Day four of the trial of Kyle Rittenhouse continued Thursday, Nov. 4, with more witness testimony.
The Aug. 23, 2020 police shooting of Jacob Blake led to days of protests and riots in Kenosha. Two days later, Kyle Rittenhouse shot three men during the unrest, killing two of them.
On Thursday, the state called Richie McGinniss to the stand.
McGinniss was a witness who helped Joseph Rosenbaum after Rittenhouse shot him last year. McGinniss works for an online news publication site, and as part of his protest coverage, he'd interviewed Rittenhouse earlier in the night.
At some point later, a confrontation between the defendant and an unarmed Rosenbaum near the Car Source on 63rd Street.
McGinniss, who was still following Rittenhouse, said he ended up running behind the two men. McGinniss said Rosenbaum advanced toward Rittenhouse and testified "something dangerous" was eventually going to happen.
Prosecutor Thomas Binger asked McGinniss to describe the chaotic situation as he saw it unfold.
"What was it about the situation in front of you that focused your attention?" asked Binger.
"We were running very quickly," replied McGinniss. "But also, I knew having seen Mr. Rittenhouse earlier that he was armed. And also, there was a bag that was thrown by Mr. Rosenbaum and clearly there was something about to happen."
Binger: "Did you ever see a weapon on Mr. Rosenbaum?"
Binger: "A gun?"
Binger: "A knife?" asked Binger.
McGinniss: "No, I just saw a plastic bag, that was it."
McGinniss testified that he saw the shooting happened. He said that after Rosenbaum lunged toward Rittenhouse's gun, Rittenhouse fired four shots and Rosenbaum landed on the ground.
Binger pushed back saying McGinniss can't know what Rosenbaum intended to do.
Binger: "You have no idea what he was doing or trying to do?"
McGinniss: "Well he said [expletive] you and reached for the gun."
From the stand, McGinniss said after Rosenbaum was shot, "I was looking at Mr. Rosenbaum on the ground and attempting to find where the wounds were. And it was like a pair of legs arriving next to me, my peripheral vision. And I just screamed 'Call 911!'" That pair of legs belonged to Kyle Rittenhouse, in a green shirt on video.
Prosecutor Thomas Binger asked him, "Is it hard for you to see that?" He replied, "I certainly don't like to watch it."
Ryan Balch took the stand next, an Army veteran who went to Kenosha that night with a Glock handgun and AR-15 to protect businesses. He said he'd never met Rittenhouse before, and kept an eye on him that night. Balch said, "He seemed like a young and impressionable kid."
Balch testified he came to Kenosha, he went to Car Source & that’s when he met Rittenhouse.— Kristen Barbaresi (@KristenBarbar) November 4, 2021
Balch was armed as well, intending to protect businesses. pic.twitter.com/WCh5M27k5S
Binger: Did you feel like you needed to keep an eye on the defendant?
Balch: Yes and no. I felt like as young as he looked, the protesters would see the way he looked as a weakness and exploit that."
They were not together when Rittenhouse shot Rosenbaum. Balch said, "I turned to look north, that's when I heard a pistol shot, and then almost immediately following it I heard four rifle shots."
But Balch said he had interacted with Rosenbaum several times earlier that night. "Rosenbaum was right there in front of my face, yelling and screaming, and I said 'Back off, chill. I don't know what your problem is.' He said 'If I catch any of you guys alone tonight, I'm going to f***ing kill you.'" Balch later said of Rosenbaum, "Every encounter I saw him have with someone was extremely aggressive."
Rosenbaum was holding a plastic bag that night. Balch later told the FBI he thought it could contain chemicals for a Molotov cocktail. But on redirect, he admitted there were no chemicals inside.
Prosecutor Binger read from the FBI's notes, "'Balch examined the bag quickly and observed an ammonium mixture and a small bleach bottle.'" He asked Balch, "First of all, am I reading your statement to the FBI correctly?" Balch said, "You are." Binger then asked, "None of that is true, is it?" And Balch replied, "It doesn't appear to be, no."
Nineteen jurors remain in trial after one juror was dismissed because of a joke.
As understood by the judge and attorneys, the crude joke was made by juror number seven. They apparently alluded to why Kenosha police only shot Jacob Blake seven times last August. The answer dealt with the number of bullets police had.
The juror did not wish to repeat the joke when he was brought to court.
"My feeling, it wasn't anything to do with the case," explained juror number seven.
Judge Bruce Schroeder felt it was inappropriate and agreed with the prosecution that it showed bias.
"One of the things I have to do, I try to confine to the things I have to judge," said Schroeder. "The public needs to be confident that this is a fair trial. At the very least, it was bad judgement to tell a joke of that nature."
Friday, several organized demonstrators are expected to gather outside the courthouse.
And inside the courtroom, the state plans to call on a witness who saw the shooting death of Anthony Huber. Then Monday, the state plans to call on Gaige Grosskreutz, the man who confronted Rittenhouse, was shot at close range and survived.