A Wisconsin judge imposed new restrictions on prosecutors but granted Kyle Rittenhouse's defense lawyers a bit more latitude in describing the murder case to jurors.
The 18-year-old Rittenhouse is set to go on trial Nov. 1 in the fatal shootings of Joseph Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber during an Aug. 25, 2020, protest against the Kenosha police shooting of a Black man, Jacob Blake, but a judge barred prosecutors from using the word "Victim" to describe those two men and a third, Gaige Grosskreutz, who was wounded in the incident, reported the Associated Press.
"The word 'victim' is a loaded, loaded word," said Kenosha County Circuit Court Judge Bruce Schroeder. "'Alleged victim' is a cousin to it."
The judge denied a prosecution request to bar defense attorneys from using similarly loaded language in reference to Rosenbaum, Huber and Grosskreutz, saying Rittenhouse's lawyers may present evidence suggesting the men were engaged in crimes at the time of the shootings.
"If more than one of them were engaged in arson, rioting, looting, I'm not going to tell the defense you can't call them that," the judge said.
Schroeder also ruled that use-of-force expert John Black, who defense attorneys want to call as a witness, may not testify about Rittenhouse's state of mind but rejected a prosecution request to block his testimony, saying jurors didn't need an expert to understand what happened.
Assistant district attorney Thomas Binger said he wouldn't call his own expert witness if Schroeder testified only about the timeline of events in the fatal shootings, and defense attorney Mark Richards agreed to that arrangement.
Schroeder will allow prosecutors to show a video of police telling Rittenhouse and other armed militia members they appreciated their presence and tossed the teen a bottle of water, which defense attorneys argued would show that officers didn't believe he was acting recklessly, but the judge disagreed with prosecutors that the evidence was irrelevant.
"If the jury is being told, if the defendant is walking down the sidewalk and doing what he claims he was hired to do and police say good thing you're here, is that something influencing the defendant and emboldening him in his behavior?" Schroeder said. "That would be an argument for relevance."