The Wisconsin district attorney who prosecuted Kyle Rittenhouse has one regret about the trial that ended with an acquittal.
The 18-year-old Rittenhouse took the stand in his own defense for the shooting deaths of two men and the wounding of another at a Black Lives Matter protest in Kenosha, and assistant district attorney Thomas Binger wishes he had confronted the teen gunman with graphic images of Gaige Grosskreutz “with his arm nearly blown off” and video of Joseph Rosenbaum “gasping out his least breath," reported New York State Bar Association.
“You’re telling us that these people deserve to die, well here they are," Binger said, explaining what he would say if he could try the case again. "Now look at them in the eye, unflinching, and own what you did. If you can’t, if you’re scared, you’re grossed out, you can’t confront that, I think that says something about your conscience, I think that says something about your beliefs here, and I think if you are not man enough to own up to what you did, then don’t you dare come in here and tell us that these people deserve to die, and you’re legally justified and doing all this.”
Binger told the bar association's "Miranda Warnings" podcast that he did not regret charging Rittenhouse with first-degree murder, which has a higher threshold of proof than second-degree murder, because he wanted to send a message.
“I think the very intentional homicide is obviously a stronger charge," Binger said. "It carries with it a mandatory life in prison, I think it’s the appropriate charge here, and I think it better crystallizes the real issue here, which is I’m not sure that I believe that defendant when he says that he had a genuine belief that he had to defend his life in that situation. I think that there’s credible evidence that suggests that he was out there essentially looking for trouble, you know, bringing a gun into a violent situation to escalate, having his own political agenda."
"I think that he was willing to kill that night going in and willing to accept that," he added, "so I think there’s some element of no matter what was going on around him this was potentially going to happen.”
Binger agreed with many observers that Judge Bruce Schroeder weakened his case by barring evidence of Rittenhouse's association with the right-wing Proud Boys militant group and a video of the teen boasting that he would shoot shoplifters, but the prosecutor thought he had an opening during his cross examination to ask the defendant about that.
“He made it clear, the door was still slightly open, and when there was testimony from the defendant that I felt was opening the door and allowing … it, I felt that it was appropriate to go there," Binger said.
Schroeder ended up sending the jury out of the courtroom to admonish the prosecutor, who told the podcast that he thinks the judge was angry that he didn't raise the issue before asking the question.
“But, of course, I’m in the middle of cross examination," Binger said. "I can’t just pause and say, ‘Judge, I need a five-minute recess so I can ask you whether or not I can go down this line of questioning,' and I think it can’t be overemphasized that we’re talking about a cross examination in a double homicide case. I’m sorry, but there’s a lot of leeway in that type of situation. This is a defendant who’s taking the stand and is testifying about two killings that he committed. I’m entitled to a little leeway."
Binger also said he didn't believe Rittenhouse was sincere when he broke down in tears.
“I think the tears were manufactured crocodile tears, and I think the jury saw right through them," he said, "and there was no remorse for anything. He was unapologetic, no concern about the lives that he took -- none of that.”
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