KENOSHA — Kyle Rittenhouse was back in court Monday afternoon for a final hearing before his trial is set to begin next week.
Rittenhouse is accused of shooting three men, killing two, during the unrest following the police shooting of Jacob Blake last August. Joseph Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber were shot and killed. Gaige Grosskreutz was shot and survived.
On Monday, attorneys discussed some of the final motions left to consider before trial.
Judge Bruce Schroeder said he will allow Rittenhouse's defense attorneys to call on Kenosha Police Officer Amanda Franco as a witness. Court documents state she had had 2 “brief, cordial conversation[s]” with Rittenhouse in the hours leading up to the shootings.
The Judge will also allow the defense team to show any videos in which law enforcement give water to Rittenhouse and say they appreciate him.
Prosecutors argued the interaction wasn't relevant, and the defense said it believed it was relevant. The judge said he thinks it should be admitted because it can help the jury consider Rittenhouse's state of mind.
"The question is whether the defendant, whether the statement or statements the defense is interested in presenting, is something that would bear on the mind of the defendant, which is what we are looking for on all these charges, what the state of mind of the accused was," Judge Schroeder said. "And I will tell the jury, as we always do, you can’t look into a person’s mind to find out his intent, but you are consider what he was doing, why he was doing it, among other things."
Court documents also state Officer Franco was called out to an alleged fight in which Rittenhouse was involved with his sister in July of 2020. The judge has since ruled video of the incident will not be shown in trial.
Last week the defense team introduced a use-of-force expert, Dr. John Black. It was decided Monday Dr. Black will only be able to testify about the timing of the events and shootings from the videos. The state will not present its own use-of-force expert.
Prosecutors wanted the judge to prohibit the defense team from calling Huber, Rosenbaum and Grosskreutz as “rioters”, “looters”, or “arsonists.” The judge disagreed with the state. He then discussed the word, "victim," which he said he believes is a loaded term.
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"You mean to tell me if you in final argument you said to the jury, 'Kyle Rittenbouse is a cold blooded killer,' you don't think you'd be allowed to do that?" Judge Schroeder said.
"I think I should be," Assistant District Attorney Thomas Binger said. "I think I should be able to call people a victim, too."
"So why can’t he call the victim an arsonist if that’s what he thinks he can prove?" Judge Schroeder said.
Binger said argued that's a double standard.
"Their behavior that night has nothing to do with this case unless it was witnessed by the defendant," Binger said.
Jury selection begins next Monday morning. There will be 20 jurors seated, and eight will be alternates.