In a tense exchange in the courtroom during the murder trial of Kyle Rittenhouse, Circuit Judge Bruce Schroeder admonished lead prosecutor Thomas Binger for his line of questioning of the defendant.
Binger had attempted to address a statement Rittenhouse had made several days prior to his shooting of three people during the Kenosha protests about it being appropriate to use deadly force to protect property. The judge had previously said during pre-trial proceedings that the comments couldn’t be raised though he was leaving the door open for revisiting that early ruling.
When Binger told the judge that he left the door open for reconsideration, Schroeder shouted back, “For me! Not for you!”
Binger had also questioned Rittenhouse about his refusal to speak in his own defense after his arrest until taking the stand at his trial.
“I was astonished when you began your examination by commenting on the defendant’s post-arrest silence,” Schroeder told Binger, raising his voice. “That’s basic law. It’s been basic law in this country for 40 years, 50 years. I have no idea why you would do something like that.”
Rittenhouse’s attorneys asked the judge to consider a mistrial with prejudice–which would prevent prosecutors from re-trying the case. Schroeder said he would consider their motion later.
On Aug. 25, 2020, Rittenhouse, then 17, went to Kenosha, Wisconsin, armed with an AR-style semi-automatic weapon. Rittenhouse, who lived in nearby Antioch, Illinois, and his lawyers have argued that he was at the demonstrations against racial injustice in the city to protect property from protesters. There had been days of unrest in Kenosha after a white officer shot Jacob Blake, a 29-year-old Black man who was paralyzed after the shooting.
Rittenhouse faces five felony charges. If convicted of the most serious charge — first-degree intentional homicide — he faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison. Rittenhouse has pleaded not guilty to all charges.
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