During Friday’s hearing, a Wisconsin judge barred prosecutors from presenting a link between accused protest shooter Kyle Rittenhouse and far-right, neo-fascist group the Proud Boys at his upcoming trial.
According to Kenosha News, Kenosha County Circuit Court Judge Bruce Schroeder told both the prosecution and defense that Rittenhouse’s trial “is not going to be a political trial.” Shroeder also denied a motion filed by the defense to present details of 36-year-old victim Joseph Rosenbaum’s prior criminal history — which included a conviction for molesting five young boys, between the ages of 9 and 11, in Arizona in 2002.
Both sides argued that their evidence — Rittenhouse’s link to the Proud Boys and Rosenbaum’s criminal history — provided a glimpse into their demeanor and mindset on the night of the deadly August 2020 shooting.
According to Kenosha News, Assistant District Attorney Thomas Binger said they believe the men Rittenhouse met and took pictures with at a Wisconsin tavern in January were leaders of the Wisconsin chapter of the Proud Boys. Binger also alleged Rittenhouse traveled to Miami to meet the controversial group’s national leaders.
However, the defense said they had an expert review Rittenhouse’s electronic data history and they found no evidence of the teen being linked to the Proud Boys or any other white supremacist group before last year’s shooting.
Rittenhouse, now 18, is accused of using an AR-15-style weapon to fatally shoot Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber, 26, during a protest for the officer-related shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha. Another man was wounded but survived.
Rittenhouse claimed while at the protest, he was hit in the head and neck with a baseball bat and skateboard. While medics reportedly observed superficial scratches on his arm, they did not see any bruising or cuts.
In November, Rittenhouse’s friend, Dominick Black, 19, was arrested for buying the AR-15-style gun Rittenhouse used in the deadly shooting. Black allegedly used Rittenhouse’s money to make the purchase in Ladysmith, Wisconsin, but the weapon was registered to Black’s name.
Authorities reportedly said Black asked Rittenhouse to join him in protecting a Car Source business during the protest. However, reports indicated that the owner of the Car Source never asked the pair to guard his business. Black allegedly drove Rittenhouse back to Antioch, Illinois, after the shooting. Rittenhouse was arrested days later.
Rittenhouse, who is free on a $2 million bond, is charged with intentional homicide, attempted homicide, reckless homicide, recklessly endangering safety, and possession of a dangerous weapon by a person under 18. His trial is scheduled to begin on November 1.
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[Featured image: Antioch Police Department, YouTube video screengrab]