By John Garcia and Maher Kawash
KENOSHA, WI (WLS) — The Kyle Rittenhouse case returned to court Friday as a Kenosha judge held a key hearing.
The Antioch teenager is accused of killing two men and wounding a third during a protest following the shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha last year.
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Prosecutors argue that Rittenhouse traveled about 20 miles to Kenosha, Wisconsin, from his home in Antioch, Illinois, with an AR-15 rifle during the riots following the police shooting of Jacob Blake.
“There were other chaos tourists like the defendant who were drawn like a moth to the flame to our community,” prosecutor Thomas Binger said.
The Kenosha County judge denied the prosecution’s effort to bring in certain evidence against Rittenhouse because he believes it’s not relevant.
That evidence included a video taken 15 days before the protest shootings in 2020.
Prosecutors claim it shows Rittenhouse outside a drug store watching people he believed were shoplifting and commenting that he wished he had his rifle so he could shoot them.
The judge also won’t let the prosecution tell the jury about Rittenhouse visiting a Racine bar with the Proud Boys.
The judge also isn’t letting evidence of a fight Rittenhouse was involved back in July of 2020.
“I’m virtually certain that if I admitted this kind of evidence, it would be a reversal if there were a conviction,” said Judge Bruce Schroeder.
Prosecutors said Rittenhouse went to Kenosha after seeing a post on social media for militia to come and protect Kenosha businesses from protestors. Defense attorneys do not deny Rittenhouse fired at the victims, but plan to argue he fired in self-defense.
“This isn’t a whodunit, and it’s not, it wasn’t an accident. It is an intentional act with an affirmative defense attached to it,” defense attorney Mark Richards said.
Prosecutors want to link Rittenhouse to conservative groups like the Proud Boys, who opposed the activists who were behind the rioting. Many of those groups have donated money for his defense.
“There must be evidence by a preponderance that on August 25, 2020, Rittenhouse was either a member of the Proud Boys, or had loyalties to that to that group,” defense attorney Corey Chirafsi said.
“The defendant came to our community,” Binger said. “He’s not a resident. He’s underage, he’s out after curfew, he’s armed with an illegal weapon.”
Defense attorneys for Rittenhouse also said, aside from their claims of self-defense, there is no evidence the shootings were racially motivated because all the victims were white.
Jury selection begins November 1.
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