Jury in Rittenhouse murder trial wants to review video evidence
Kyle Rittenhouse (YouTube/screen grab)

By Nathan Layne

KENOSHA, Wis. (Reuters) -The jury in the Wisconsin murder trial of Kyle Rittenhouse asked about viewing video evidence on Wednesday as they attempt to reach a consensus on whether to convict or acquit the teen for killing two men and wounding a third during protests last year.

The 12-member jury sent a note to Kenosha County Judge Bruce Schroeder asking whether they can view video in their private room or in the courtroom. It was not immediately clear what video they were seeking to review.

Schroeder said he would tell the seven women and five men on the jury they would view the video in the courtroom, which he would clear of public attendees and the media.

Mark Richards, an attorney for Rittenhouse, said he was concerned the jury was asking to see a drone video that was featured by the prosecution during two-weeks of testimony.

The defense has objected to the video, which they say could be manipulated, and it is cited as one factor in their motion for a mistrial, which has not been ruled on by the judge.

"I don't know what exhibits the jurors wish to see," Richards said. "We the defense has a real problem with them seeing the drone footage."

Rittenhouse, 18, is charged with homicide in the deaths of Joseph Rosenbaum, 36, and Anthony Huber, 26, and attempted homicide in the wounding of Gaige Grosskreutz, 28, on Aug. 25, 2020. He faces life in prison on the most serious count.

The shootings took place in Kenosha during protests - marred by arson, rioting and looting - that followed the police shooting of a Black man, Jacob Blake, who was left paralyzed from the waist down.

Rittenhouse, who was 17 at the time, has pleaded not guilty and took the stand last week to argue that he only fired his weapon after the men attacked him. He said Rosenbaum, the first person he shot that night, grabbed the barrel of his semi-automatic rifle.

During closing arguments on Monday, prosecutors sought to portray Rittenhouse as a reckless vigilante who provoked a series of violent encounters, first by raising his rifle in a threatening way, then by shooting Rosenbaum which created an "active shooter" situation that others tried to stop.

The defense described Rittenhouse as a civic-minded teen who carried a medical kit in addition to his weapon and wanted to protect a used-car dealership from the kind of property damage that Kenosha had seen over two nights prior to the shooting.

The Rittenhouse trial has emerged as the most closely watched case involving a civilian's right to self-defense since George Zimmerman was acquitted in the fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed Black teenager, in 2013.

Like Zimmerman, Rittenhouse has become a polarizing figure, viewed as heroic by some conservatives who favor expansive gun rights and as a symbol of a reckless American gun culture by many on the left.

Kenosha has been on edge during the trial, and a small crowd of demonstrators assembled on the courthouse steps again on Wednesday, some holding signs in support of Rittenhouse and others calling for his conviction.

Outside the courthouse, a man carrying an AR-15-style rifle and a bullhorn was told by Kenosha County Sheriff's deputies that he could not be in the area because it was in close proximity to a school. The man, who called himself Maserati Mike, got in his black Maserati car and drove away without incident.

(Additional reporting by Brendan McDermid in Kenosha; Editing Sandra Maler and Alistair Bell)