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Legal expert weighs in on Rittenhouse's Proud Boys photo, alleged violent past

kyle rittenhouse and defense attorney
Posted at 6:23 PM, Jul 02, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-02 19:23:03-04

KENOSHA - A new motion in the Kyle Rittenhouse trial asks for his allegedly past violent behavior and a controversial photo be shown in court. Rittenhouse is accused of killing two people and wounding a third in the Kenosha protests last summer.

The Kenosha County District Attorney’s Office filed a motion Thursday asking a judge to consider “other acts” as evidence connected to the Rittenhouse case. A former prosecutor and current defense attorney, Julius Kim, who is not associated with the case, said the motion is not uncommon.

Kyle Rittenhouse
FILE - In this Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2020, file photo, Kyle Rittenhouse carries a weapon as he walks along Sheridan Road in Kenosha, Wis., during a night of unrest following the weekend police shooting of Jacob Blake. Rittenhouse's defense team has called him a member of a militia. Rittenhouse is accused of killing two people and seriously wounding a third.

“One of those things that is actually banned from trials is character evidence, the theory being that trials are to figure out whether people are guilty of individual circumstances, individual situations, and courts don't want people to be convicted of things just because they happen to be bad people or have bad character," said Kim.

Julius Kim
Julius Kim

Rittenhouse is accused of killing Anthony Huber and Joseph Rosenbaum along with seriously wounding Gaige Grosskreutz. The shootings happened on August 25, 2020 during the protests in Kenosha. Those followed the shooting of Jacob Blake by Kenosha police.

Police Shooting Wisconsin
This Oct. 30, 2020 photo provided by the Kenosha County Sheriff's Department shows Kyle Rittenhouse in Kenosha, Wis. Rittenhouse is accused of killing two protesters days after Jacob Blake was shot by police in Kenosha, Wis. earlier this year. (Kenosha County Sheriff's Department via AP)

More than month before that on July 1, 2020, prosecutors say Rittenhouse repeatedly punched a girl in Kenosha on the lakefront. The DA argues in court documents that “the defendant… willingly and intentionally put himself in violent situations in Wisconsin.”

Gaige Grosskreutz
FILE - In this Aug. 25, 2020 photo, Gaige Grosskreutz, top, tends to an injured protester during clashes with police outside the Kenosha County Courthouse in Kenosha, Wis. Within minutes, Grosskreutz was shot. Prosecutors say 17-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse shot and killed two men during a chaotic protest Aug. 25. They've also accused Rittenhouse of shooting Grosskreutz in the arm.(AP Photo/David Goldman)

“The State wants to introduce that type of evidence to again establish a motive, maybe [a] certain pattern of behavior,” said Kim.

Anthony Huber
Anthony Huber, a man police say was shot and killed on August 25, 2020 by Kyle Rittenhouse, 17, during unrest in Kenosha.

Fast forward to January 2021, Rittenhouse was seen drinking at a Racine bar where he “posed for pictures with the leaders of the 'Proud Boys' organization while flashing their 'OK' sign," the motion states. Prosecutors said it proves he shares beliefs with what they describe as a violent white supremacist group.

“Whether Mr. Rittenhouse is technically a Proud Boy or not may or may not be as important as the fact that he may agree with that ideology that the Proud Boys have been known to kind of put out there,” said Kim.

The defense filed their own motion late Thursday arguing “this evidence should be excluded as it is irrelevant to the incidents which occurred…” The defense said ultimately Rittenhouse was acting in self-defense when being attacked.

Despite this case being in the courts for nearly a year, Kim thinks all of these motions are on track.

“This is a high-profile occasion. I think both sides really want to make sure that they get this right. They don't want to rush through things,” said Kim.

Rittenhouse’s trial is set to start in November. He has pleaded not guilty.

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